Lee Li(李志恒) is a veteran of the China market – he led the team that won Procter & Gamble's agency of record business in Taiwan for Grey in 1990 and more recently he was part of the lead team that wrenched back the US$100 million P&G China media buying assignment for Zenith.

But Lee, known best for his no-nonsense business style, belies his more than 15 years in the industry, which included stints at McCann-Erickson, Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, predominantly in Taiwan, and the numerous, major account wins under his belt.

"The most important thing is to be patient, persevere and know what you want and then you must have a little bit of luck," he said.

Hong Kong-born Lee, now Zenith China's chief executive officer, said that within the marketing communications industry, the demand for media specialists would grow strongly because "we don't just give television or print as a solution to the client.

"We look at every channel, DM, the internet, outdoor, PR and within these we try to offer very creative but cost-effective recommendations which the clients are looking for, especially with the economic downturn," he said.

Although China was still a growing market, Lee said cutting through the clutter was crucial to success there. "Consumers have too much information and their lifestyle is more varied, so content, context and delivery are very important."

He believed that the consolidation of media agencies would continue to create a handful of powerful buying and planning organisations.

"It will be at the centre of strategic marketing communications programmes. In China, we have been asked by local clients to build their corporate culture, brand management systems, organise events and sponsorships and even formulate training programmes."

In line with the market's directions, Zenith will soon roll out internet and direct units to supplement its core planning and buying functions.

"It's very different from five years ago when advertising agencies held the centre. Now the focus is on media specialists. We are meeting specialised demand from both local and international clients and this has resulted in Zenith winning more and more direct clients, especially among local companies in China. "

But local clients don't have the sophistication of multinational companies. They don't have regional or global alignments and they don't have the experience of systematic marketing programmes," Lee said.

This is especially important for Zenith because its China clients make up 35 per cent of its client list, compared with 70 per cent of adspend accounted for by Chinese organisations. 

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