From Thompson Wong (堂煌廣告) to FCB (博達廣告)

York Lo: From Thompson Wong (堂煌廣告) to FCB (博達廣告)

Formed as Thompson, Wong & Associates in 1971 by Peter Thompson and Jenny Wong, Thompson Wong was one of the four largest ad agencies in Hong Kong and has gone through a dozen English name changes (but only one Chinese name change) over the past half a century thanks to a series of shareholding changes (from Grey to Kenyon &Eckardt to Bozell to FCB) and rebranding. It remains a major player in the HK advertising industry today as FCB HK Ltd and counted many prominent figures in the industry as alums.

Thompson and Wong

Thompson Wong Image 1 York Lo

Article about Jenny Wong returning to HK after completing her studies in graphic designs in the US in 1964 (KSEN, 1964-6-18)

The eponymous co-founders of Thompson Wong are two veterans of the HK advertising industry in the 1960s. An Australian native, Peter Thompson (湯普生) worked as creative director at Grey Advertising Australia in Sydney and worked in New York and Canada before coming to HK where he worked for two local agencies. (KSDN, 1971-7-9) The daughter of merchant Wong Cho-kwong, Jenny Wong (黄慕琳) attended St Paul’s Convent in Hong Kong and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York with a degree in graphic design in 1964, allegedly the first person to earn such degree from Hong Kong according to the article above. She joined Marklin Advertising upon her return to HK and served as its artistic director. The two joined forces and incorporated Thompson, Wong & Associates in January 1971 and picked the Chinese name of “Tong Wong” which stands for magnificent and sounds like the first syllable of the names of the two founders.

Wong’s husband Lui Kwok-hing (雷國慶) is the eldest great grandson of Kowloon Motor Bus co-founder Lui Leung and her brother in law Daniel Koo (husband of her sister) was the proprietor of the Shui Hing department store, which became one of the first clients for Thompson Wong andthe firm’s initial office was located at the top floor of the Shui Hing Building in Central.

In August 1971, Thompson Wong entered into partnership with the publicly listed American advertising giant Grey Advertising and was renamed Thompson, Wong & Grey. (KSEN, 1971-8-14) In May 1972, Thompson Wong welcomed representatives of Grey from the US, Japan and Australia to Hong Kong. (KSDN, 1972-5-15)In 1972, Ken Kiernan (簡建南) became managing director of the firm and in 1973, the firm was renamed Thompson, Wong, Kiernan & CJL.

Kenyon & Eckhardt

Thompson Wong Image 2 York Lo

Article about the formation of Thompson Wong Kiernan K&E in 1975. Right to left: Peter Thompson, Ken Kiernan, Jenny Wong, Macmillan (WKYP, 1975-7-5)

In July 1975, Kenyon& Eckhardt(金原艾谷國際集團) bought into Thompson Wong and took over the Asian business of Grey Advertising. As a result, the firm was renamed Thompson, Wong, Kiernan K&E Ltd although it retained its Chinese name. At the time, Thompson Wong had already emerged as one of the leading ad agencies in HK with annual billings of over HK$18 million.

Thompson Wong Image 3 York Lo

Nigel Ng (center) and two other new directors of Thompson Wong in 1976(WKYP, 1976-3-2)

In March 1976, Thompson Wong promoted Nigel Ng (伍洲寧)who had worked as Chinese creative manager for the firm since its inception to director. Ngjoined the advertising industry after he graduated from HKU in 1965 and worked for the famous Jim Wong at Grant Advertising before joining Thompson Wong. In 1978, he started the People agency with Leonie Ki (紀文鳳) which was acquired by Grey the same year and became Grey HK. Ng is best known for creating the “Hey Big Spender” commercial for Hennessy cognac featuring vocals by singer Frances Yip in 1981.

In August 1976, Thompson Wong held its fifth anniversary celebration with Thompson, Kiernan, Nigel Ng and Peter Cheung as hosts and its clients at the time included RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Singer Sewing Machine, Hutchison, New Zealand Airlines and MD Motors. (WKYP, 1976-8-13)

Thompson Wong Image 4 York Lo

Article and picture about the appointment of Richard Hawson (WKYP, 1977-2-17)

In February 1977, Richard Hawson the Asia Pacific marketing manager of RJ Reynolds joined Thompson Wong as managing director for client relations. He brought to the firm 18 years of consumer products advertising and marketing experience in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In June 1979, Ken Kiernan was elevated to chairman of the firm after seven years as managing director while Richard Hawson succeeded him as managing director. By then the firm was one of the four largest ad agencies in Hong Kong.  (WKYP, 1979-6-16)

In 1980, the firm began to phase Thompson Wong out of its English name by renaming itself TWK Kenyon &Eckardt followed by just Kenyon &Eckardt (K&E) in 1981 although the firm kept its Chinese name of “Tong Wong”.

In March 1983, Kenyon &Eckardt HK announced two new clients – the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche which was represented by the Swiss trading firm of Ed Keller & Co and Visionhire (彩視佳), a leading local color television rental service at the time. (WKYP, 1983-3-19) The same month, the firm hired Cecil Yow (邱漢雄) as director of client relations. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Yow worked on the Revlon, Johnson & Johnson, Marlboro, Seiko and Gande Price accounts at Leo Burnett and was advertising and marketing manager for Seiko and the Carrian group before joining the firm. Yow later returned to Leo Burnett in 1984 where he rose to managing director in 1990 and entering the movie industry in 1994 as CEO of China Star and later his own firms.(WKYP, 1983- 3-18)

In May 1983, K&E was appointed ad agent in seven Asian markets – HK, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines for the Japanese copier giant Ricoh in partnership with its Tokyo affiliate Meiitsu Kenyon &Eckardt. (WKYP, 1983-5-10)

In September 1983, K&E acquired a major talent in the form of Richard Lam (林振強,1948-2003) as creative director. The famous Cantonese lyricist who was responsible for ads for Jacobs Suchard, Pepsi, Ricola, Winston cigarettes, Toblerone chocolate bars at her sister Eunice Lam’s Wong & Lam and Coca-Cola, Colgate, Nestle and Kodak at Ling McCann. He was supported at K&E by Law Yeung-kai (羅揚佳) who was artistic director and previously worked with him at Ling McCann and previously worked for Allied Advertising (see article on Y.D. Yao).In July 1984, K&E HK brought in a JWT executive from New York as executive creative director. (WKYP, 1984-7-19)

Thompson Wong Image 5 York Lo

Newspaper article about the appointment of legendary lyricist Lam Chun-keung as creative director of Kenyon.

In January 1985, K&E announced three major client wins – Hop Hing (maker of the popular Lion Globe brand of cooking oil, beating three other firms), the Thai Tourism Board (for promotion in HK, Taiwan and Singapore) and Carlsberg (for one of its new products, beating four other firms; Carlsberg was a longtime client) (WKYP, 1985-1-23)

In March 1985, K&E won two major multinational contracts – the Asia Pacific contract for the Ramada hotel chain (beating three other agencies) and the French leather goods brand Louis Vuitton. (WKYP, 1985-3-24)

In October 1985, K&E won Le Saunda, the rapidly growing chain of Italian shoe stores (which had ten stores in Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui at the time) as a client (WKYP, 1985-10-10)

Bozell to FCB

In 1985, Kenyon &Eckardt’s parent company Lorimar acquired Bozell& Jacobs and in 1987, Kenyon &Eckardt in HK was renamed Bozell Jacobs Kenyon &Eckardt and shortened to just Bozell Ltd in 1989. In June 1989, Bozell won the contract to promote Cable & Wireless’ new cellular phone service and other new services. The contract was worth over $10 million and new billings that year up to that point already exceeded $28 million. (WKYP, 1989-6-7). The same year the firm won the $3 million Dutch Lady account from Ted Bates.

Thompson Wong Image 6 York Lo

Signing of the Seiko contract in early 1990. Left to right: Kenyon executive director Brian Tucker, Seiko HK chairman, Kenyon managing director Irene Lee, Seiko HK deputy managing director David Tam (WKYP, 1990-1-24)

In January 1990, Kenyon beat three other 4A ad agencies including Ogilvy and Ted Bates and won the much-coveted Seiko contract which was formerly handled by Leo Burnett. In the summer of 1990, Kenyon also worked with the California Kiwifruit Association to introduce its products to the Hong Kong market. (WKYP, 1990-7-24)

In July 1991, Bozell won the $60 million contract from the HK Tourist Association.  In 1998, Bozelllost its Carlsberg account after 17 years and the next year,Foote Cone& Belding gobbled up Bozell and the firm was renamed FCB Hong Kong and finally changed its Chinese name in 2000 after almost three decades.

In addition to the individuals mentioned above, other famous figures in the HK advertising industry who have worked for the firm include Mike Chu (朱家鼎, 1954-2007, started his career there in 1978, co=founder of Ball Partnership and husband of actress Cherie Chung) and Alan Chan (陳幼堅,graphic designer).

This article was first posted on 20th September 2021.

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  2. Advertising & Publicity Bureau (湯臣廣告公司)
  3. Cheng Hong (鄭航) and Victory Advertising (勝利廣告)
  4. Y.D. Yao (姚玉棣) and Allied Advertising Agency (中雍廣告公司)
  5. China Neonlight Advertising Company, Mongkok, makers of neon lights – vanishing Hong Kong trades
  6. Paramount: Ad Agency and Interior Decorator

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