Creative minds: Ariel Chen takes the “path of no return” | advertising


Surname: Ariel Chen

Origin: Tainan City, Taiwan

Living / workplaces: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei

Pronoun: You / she


  • Group Creative Director, BBDO, Shanghai (2019-present)

  • Creative Director, Ogilvy, Shanghai (2015-2018)

  • Creative Director, BBDO, Shanghai (2011-2015)

  • Associate Creative Director, TBWA, Shanghai (2010-2011)

  • Senior Copywriter, Leo Burnett, Hong Kong (2008-2010)

  • Senior Copywriter, McCann, Taipei (2004-2008)

1. How did you come to be a creative?

When I was young, I wanted to watch people and express my own opinion in words. So my first job after graduating from college was as an editor for a promotional magazine called Adm in Taiwan. I was responsible for the monthly planning, interviews and writing. Through the job, I met some of the top creatives in the industry, including advertising agency bosses, creative directors, directors, etc. Influenced by the environment, I began to feel that advertising is just another platform for personal observation.

One day I was reading and correcting a job advertisement that was going to be published in the advertising magazine and decided to intercept it and promote it over the phone. From then on I took the path of advertising, a path of no return.

2. What is your favorite piece of work in your portfolio?

I like a lot of works, but the most demanding is always the one I like best. Last year for pigeon [Chocolate], an all-female crew created the film Goodbye ferris wheelwhich is one such case (see “Mars Wrigley’s Dove Asks China, ‘Put Pleasure First'”). The hardest part is first to convince yourself and believe that everything will be fine. And this is a project to preach to the public in 2020 a doctrine of “joy” that in many ways is not very enjoyable. Fortunately, when it was done, I was brainwashed (and felt happy) by myself.

3. What is your favorite piece of work that was done by someone else?

“I am” from Starbucks Brazil for International Transgender Visibility Day. A little glimpse reflects the height of the brand. If advertising could change the world a little bit, make it fairer and more diverse, it becomes more valuable.

4. What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

When I was young everything was crazy: looking for a tree in the desert of Inner Mongolia, riding horses in the rain, moving to a hot and strange city to work, publishing books, eating durian, writing advertising texts for a bookstore in Nepal, falling in love me into someone who didn’t speak the same language, and I even felt crazy getting my hair permed. Now when I think about all of this, it doesn’t seem that surprising. Instead, remember to consciously feel the madness in every little thing of daily life, such as tasting 60 bottles of wine in three days.

5a. What’s on your bucket list?

  • Travel to different countries again.

  • Learn to snowboard.

  • Learn to play a musical instrument.

  • Learn the human design diagram.

  • Manage my Red (Xiaohongshu) social media account in a Buddha-like way.

5b. Human Design Diagram?

I think the world is a mess because everyone is more or less “compromising”. the human design diagram is an instruction manual for life that teaches people to simply live their own design. Most of us live in the pressures of family, school, and society without realizing it. So we constantly suffer from “not-self” (not being ourselves). If people treat themselves better rather than forcing others to recognize your worth, it would be a great public service to the planet.

6. Do you have any secret or strange talents?

Unhappy simply forgotten, but remembering happiness with lots of details.

7. What was the last song / artist you heard?

Recently I was listening to throat chakra healing music.

8. What is your favorite music / movie / TV show / book / other from the last year and why?

The Underachiever’s Manifesto: The Guide to Achieving Little and Feeling Great by Ray Bennett. I think this book is a particularly transgressive view of the world involved Era, and it’s a bold alternate voice. People suffer because they are too arrogant and narrow-minded, too keen on personal success that nobody cares about. If everyone could only focus on their own needs, society would be more diverse and not caught up in senseless competition. I appreciate the irony and inspiration of the author, and it’s a sample book with an advertising concept. To do justice to the subject matter, even the book itself has blank pages at the end, which makes reading hassle-free.

9. Which movie / show will you never get tired of?

Crime and murder series on television.

10. Tell us about an artist (any medium) we have probably never heard of.

Amelie Chen, knitting artist.

As a former art director at an advertising agency and a teacher at the WPP Academy, she likes to pick up the needle when she is not working on the computer. Of course, she combines the two tools to create. First she types in a series of words as a sketch on her computer screen – it only takes a few seconds. Then she knits the exact words with a pin, and that takes two weeks! The big time difference between the two tools gives her great pleasure. She started with the Helvetica font and tried to bring graphic design elements into knitting to reduce the nice warmth of knitting and increase the softness of the digital design. She started creating to please herself and gradually took orders from her friends.

11. What really makes you angry? What makes you really happy

Injustice and misunderstanding.

We can all enjoy our lives and leave others alone.

At Creative Minds, we get to know APAC creatives through their answers to 11 questions – three are required and the rest from a long list that goes from serious to silly. Would you like to be introduced? Contact us.

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