Kien leaves Publicis Groupe Malaysia

Tan Kien Eng, CEO of Publicis Groupe/Leo Burnett Group Malaysia, will part ways with the agency on January 31. 

Kien is a Malaysian creative icon on the global stage who did not need Talent Corp tailing him, because he stayed faithful to Malaysia through the years. Not that Talent Corp has done any perceivable good for our creative industry that I know of.

I remember Kien as the Malaysian who’ll haul up awards for us at the prestigious Cannes Lions Creativity Festival, pushing Malaysia’s metal tally up early in the Festival week, and was instrumental in making Malaysia the most creatively awarded country across Asia Pacific! 

His reputation among the world’s greatest creative luminaries is an illustrious odyssey in itself.

I remember Kien for many things….the most telling of all is his sense of humour while dispensing jokes with a straight face. 

His last day at Publicis was January 8, and was asked by his regional bosses to stay on. 

However his new calling allows him to extend his tenure only till the end of this month. 

Cool Kien told MARKETING magazine, “I am moving on from my marriage with LB/Publicis but will remain in the same industry. Call it the 17-year itch.” 

For more than two decades, Kien steered many stellar brands like Petronas, AIA, TNB, McDonald’s, and just too many to mention here.

In recent years, he has been active in aligning his agencies towards helping the industry through various educational partnerships. 

For example, Leo Burnett, the award-winning creative agency under Publicis One Malaysia, has a cooperation agreement with Xiamen University Malaysia with an aim to foster and promote a collaborative learning culture between professional practice and academia. 

MARKETING magazine wishes Kien all the very best, and we hope his talent and experience continue to illuminate our industry.

STOP PRESS: In the interim, Neil Hudspeth will take over Kien’s role beginning February for six months. Malaysia-born Neil has lived in Asia for more than 30 years. In 1995, he established a leading brand consultancy in London (which he subsequently sold). For three and a half years he was CEO of WPP’s The Brand Union Asia Pacific in Shanghai. In 2010, he joined Leo Burnett as Chief Experience Officer and Regional Global Client Lead Asia and continues to lead digital transformation and data-led strategies for Publicis Groupe clients. First as the Chief Digital Officer Asia Pacific and recently Chief Experience Officer for Publicis Groupe in Japan. 

Trivia: Before advertising, Neil owned and ran a popular hangout frequented by ad folk called Spuds along Jalan Raja Chulan, which headlined the famous Made in Malaysia rock band. The scribe of this piece also began his professional career as a bartender at a watering hole in Lucky Garden, Bangsar.

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