采访｜Interview: Maria Laletina
An exclusive interview with creative director Lei Tao 25 HOURS
25Hours的公司位于上海古北，远离了4A广告和众多有名气的广告公司云集的 “中心”地区（The Central，你晓得的） 。在25Hours漂亮的前台，创意总监和公司创始人之一的陶磊亲自跑出来迎接我们。在他摆满杂志书籍和广告奖项的办公室里，我们与这位思维敏捷、谈吐清晰的创意总监的展开了一席对话。
陶磊：25Hours是我与我的搭档在2002年底一起创办的，但是当时我并没有在管理。公司最早的规模非常小，大概只有（我这个办公室）这么大的一间房子大。主要以做平面和包装设计为主。在2011 ，我离开了李奥贝纳回到了25Hours。这两年公司发生了很大变化。以设计为主的工作减少了，以整合营销的全案变得更多。我们后来建立了digital部门。把传统跟digital 作为一个完整的整合营销手段带给客户。现在，我们是一家提供360度整合Campaign的广告公司。
陶磊：我毕业于中国美术学院视觉传达系。我在4A工作差不多有15年了，先后进入上海天联广告公司(BBDO shanghai)、上海奥美广告公司（Ogilvy shanghai），上海李奥贝纳公司（Leo Burnett shanghai）任创意群总监。我在李奥贝纳的时间大概有９年。在２０１１年我选择离开了那里。
4A公司最大的问题是：每个人仅是一个小块的独立思考。例如，如果你是美术总监，你只是站在美术总监的角度看；文案只管写自己的文案……我认为的广告不是这样做，我认为的广告是５０年代的美国，它是一家帮你了解市场，分析产品的AGENCY – （教客户）怎么销售，用哪些media去支持，用哪些idea去产生这样的作用 。
陶磊经常受邀成为广告奖的评委 Lei is regularly invited to be the judge in China ad awards
A distinctive commercial led us to the agency 25 HOURS. With work unlike today’s colorful and face-paced advertising, their new film for Kami liquid washing detergent, with beautiful cinematography and a unique black and white tone attracted our attention.
25 HOURS offices are in Shanghai’s Gubei area, quite aways from the “central” advertising area in Xuhui, where many 4A and international agencies are based. When we arrived to their beautiful reception area creative director and co-founder Lei Tao personally came out to greet us. In his office filled with books and advertising awards, we and the quick-thinking creative sat down to chat.
SHP +: How long ago did you found this agency? And how many clients do you now have?
Lei: I founded 25 HOURS with my partner at the end of 2002, but I was not managing it at that time. The company then was very small and we mainly did graphic and packaging design, while I continued working at larger agencies as well. In 2011, I left Leo Burnett, where I was working at that time, and returned to 25 HOURS full time. Huge changes have taken place in the past two years for the company. Design-oriented work gave way to integrated marketing campaigns, and we have also established a digital division. Traditional advertising with a digital component gives customers a complete integrated marketing angle. Now, we are a 360-degree integrated campaign advertising company!
Some current retainers include China Red Star, Kami, Rio Cocktails, Centrum and Zbom Kitchenware etc.
SHP +: Did you study Advertising? And what did you do in Leo Burnett?
Lei: I graduated from the China Academy of Fine Arts, a student of graphic design. I worked for almost 15 years in 4A agencies, at BBDO, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett. I was at Leo Burnett for 9 years, and was group creative director there when I decided it was time to move on.
SHP +: Why did you choose to leave Leo Bennett after working there for so long?
Lei: There were several reasons: Firstly, I find the working methods of the 4A’s very outdated, and secondly, there are a lot of wasted hours in meetings.
But also, there are too many people are working on a single customer, and each is thinking only of their own job, and not coming together to figure out the problem of what is the best advertising for the client. The biggest problem of the 4A agencies is that everyone is only a small piece of independent thinking. I think advertising should go back to the way it was in the US in the 1950s – when your company helped you to understand the market and analyze what is wanted by the consumer, as well as educate the client on what works and which ideas produce the greatest effects.
“I have in mind an advertising company that is more like a law firm – employees are all like partners – they play a big role and each have their own expertise.”
SHP +: What kind of agency do you want to build?
Lei: I do not want to become a great advertising company. But I want each of my employees to be able to accomplish their best, and contribute their own value. Ideally, I have in mind an advertising company that is more like a law firm – employees are all like partners – they play a big role and each have their own expertise. To me the ideal size of a company, including traditional and digital, would be only around 40 people.
Compared to other companies, our staff is very stable. Many of the employees have been with us since the beginning – more than ten years now, and quite a few have been here 5-7 years.
SHP +: Who would be your ideal clients?
Lei: I don’t actually think it’s the big brands who make the best clients. Ideally, a small brand whom we can grow big with, would be the kind of client we would like to work with.
We have a good reputation in the the industry, and clients often find us by word of mouth, and they value our company. We do not market ourselves, maybe only pitch once or twice a year. We’re also not just thinking about the immediate with our clients, but giving a more comprehensive consideration. At the moment, the work from 4A agencies is being diluted and actually done by the kids, but our people are experienced, senior. Also, we are keeping up with digital – this is something which is quite slow in the 4A agencies at the moment.
SHP +: Would you like to have a car brand as a client?
Lei: I’ve worked in a lot of categories of advertising, but I do not like working with cars. First of all, it’s more expensive. It’s also more complicated; we try to keep things very simple – you like our idea, we help you to do things – it’s that simple. Secondly, the car commercials are all the same. Clients feel they have to go with what they know has worked before. I don’t have much interest in that.
Notes sticking on Lei’s office window, a reminder of his working method and the brand definitions
SHP +: What’s your favorite part of the whole creative process?
Lei: In the past I loved brainstorming and coming up with new ideas. Now, I pay more attention to the market research. When we get a brief it’s usually all over the place, the information is complicated, so we will go back to the consumer and find what it is that affects them the most – and then find a CREATIVE way to show that.
SHP +: We have received a lot of storyboards over the years, and we’re seeing that the Chinese boards are getting more creative, have a lot more story-telling, humor and great visuals recently. Do you agree?
Lei: Some Chinese works are changing, but in most there is no sense of humor, there is no strong touching story, no beautiful imagery.
For me, I would want to have this insight of Western advertising, rather than their execution practices. But of course, due to the different cultures, we cannot copy the insight in those Western ads – we have to seize the heart of the Chinese people, which I think is the most important thing.
SHP +:. We pitched the Rio storyboard recently, it’s a board about traditional Chinese cuisine, and the client chose an Asian director in the end. Is it difficult for a foreign director to nail such a culturally Chinese spot? Do you like to work with foreign directors?
Lei: No, I do not agree with that. I like European and Foreign directors, especially when we are filming a particularly Chinese script because I like to see how they interpret the script from their angle. It’s usually more interesting interpretation than a Chinese or Taiwanese director would bring.
If a foreign production company can solve communications projects, it works well. But working with foreign production companies is not just a problem of communication, it’s a problem of working styles. Foreign productions have to adapt to the way the clients work over here, it’s a less strict style – but for the most part it’s not a problem.
SHP +: Which spot impress you the most in this year so far?
Lei: IKEA’s “Sky Bed”.