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‘Be a Sponge’ – Saatchi & Saatchi NZ’s Cece Chu on Joining Creative LIAisons 2023

06 December 2023

‘Be a Sponge’ – Saatchi & Saatchi NZ’s Cece Chu on Joining Creative LIAisons 2023

BIA Staff
December 6, 2023

Cece Chu, Senior Creative at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, joined the on-site LIAisons program in Las Vegas as a mentee this year.

Born in China, and raised in New Zealand, with a stint in London, Chu has worked on some true classics, like the most talked about Hilux ad since Bugger, and a massive Christmas campaign for UK supermarket Asda.

She joined Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand in 2020 and was one of a handful of creatives selected to take part in LIA’s Creative LIAisons program this year.

How do you feel about the entire LIAisons experience overall?

I’m really grateful for the opportunity to meet and connect with talented people and leaders from around the world. There were some amazing speakers that were both inspiring and thought provoking.

LIA takes place in Las Vegas: for anyone who thinks it’s one big party, are there any misconceptions of LIA and Vegas that you can dispel?

 It’s just like the movies, except even bigger and busier. On my first day, I saw a man going for a run wearing nothing but speedos and sweat bands with the US flag printed on them. He summed the place up perfectly; Vegas was the US with an exclamation mark.

Favourite part of the program?

On Day 3, we were given the opportunity to sit in a jury room and watch the judges decide what metal, if any, the work received. I sat in the ‘Creativity in the Metaverse and Evolution Jury’ and not only got to see some of the amazing work from around the world, I got an insight into the discussions around tech vs idea.

What’s the biggest lesson you took home with you?

Be a sponge.

You’ve been described as “a Swiss army knife of talent” – what’s your approach to continually expanding your skillset, especially in the ‘intelligent age’?

Just be open to giving things a go. I started off as an Art Director and then got into writing because the agency that hired me had too many ADs at the time. Then I discovered I really enjoyed writing. Now as a ‘Creative’, I love doing a bit of both.

You joined Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, an agency with an incredible creative legacy, in 2020. What can you tell us about the culture there?

The biggest thing I noticed when I arrived at Saatchi’s is that everyone was genuinely really nice, and this still rings true 3 years on.

You recently took a break for maternity leave: what have been the biggest challenges/rewards of returning to advertising? How do you manage the juggle – do you have tips for other creatives looking for more flex in their roles?

I had originally planned to return full time after 4 months, but Jayde Hill (our Head of People and Culture), who had also recently returned from maternity leave, suggested that I might want to consider a staggered return. And I’m glad she did. It made the transition so much easier.

As a Creative, there’s no such thing as work life balance, it’s more work life integration. But I’ve learnt to be a lot more present and productive with the little time I’ve got. When I get to work, that’s it, I don’t leave the office to get lunch – I’m there to work. And when I get home, I’ve only got an hour or two with Chloe so I try to stay off my phone until she’s in bed. I also try and work from home at least one day a week, which means less time wasted commuting (thank you Covid).

Like many antipodeans you spent a couple of years in London. What did you learn from working at UK agencies?

 Things take longer and there are more hoops to jump through, but budgets are much bigger.

Quick Hits:

Book everyone in the industry should read: ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’ by Paul Arden. Classic advertising handbook that I read at uni, and the only ad book I own.

Favourite show you’ve been watching lately: The Beckham documentary. As trashy as it sounds, I had to watch it after all the hype online. They sure know how to brand themselves.

Something you want to learn or wish you were better at: Pottery. I started learning it before becoming a mother but haven’t had time since. There’s something really therapeutic about making things by hand.