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The Essential List: Garron Chiu


The associate strategy director at DDB Hong Kong and award-winning comedian on supporting clients with a McDonald’s breakfast and being a Cantonese at heart

The Essential List: Garron Chiu

For the last eight years, Garron Chiu has been in the advertising industry injecting strategic thinking into all forms of communications. Whether it be ATL, BTL, activation, digital or social, everything begins with consumer insight – not just to change perception, but to change behaviour. The goal is to not just make the work good but make the work work.
His work has been recognised in local and regional awards such as the Effies, Spikes, and HKMA, including multiple awards for his current client McDonald’s Hong Kong in his role as strategy lead. In his spare time, Garron travels the world telling jokes on stage, featuring on Comedy Central’s “Stand Up Asia!” Season 2. He also rocks some crazy eyebrows.


o Place of birth:  Pasedena, California
o Hometown: Hong Kong
o Vacation:  Taipei. It’s extremely artistic, creative, energetic. The food is incredible, the people are nice, everyone has a pet, and there’s always something new to experience every time. Also when flying anywhere in Europe or North America, it’s significantly cheaper to fly through Taipei for a day trip than to fly direct. 

o Pet: I have a mutt named Siumai. For her birthday we got a cake made in the shape of a Siumai. My wife and I were ecstatic. Siumai did not care for it. 

o Place of work: DDB Group Hong Kong, in a remote office space named Cyberport. It’s in the middle of nowhere and lunch options are slim, but the view is worth it.

o Side project:  I’ve spent the better parts of the last decade travelling and telling jokes on stage. It’s a good use of all the unused insights. Plus I’m the only one who has input on the briefs.

o Mode of transport: The MTR. It’s the most efficient thing in one of the most efficient cities; equally as entertaining as any train you’d get in the West, but much cleaner.

o Bonus travel essential: Headphones. Way too many people watch videos at full volume on public transport and I hope they have a bad day.


o Artist: John Mulaney. Every joke is an insight a strategic planner wish they had
o Musician:  Chance the Rapper. It’s music designed to make you feel good, by someone who generally wants to make people feel good. 
o Film: The Big Short. It was an extremely smart and educational two hour movie made like a music video. We could all learn a thing or two. 
o Series: Succession is the best show on television right now. Also the most eloquently written…

o Commercial: It is extremely hard to make an ad that is actually funny. I think about this Ocedel LED ad from Japan every few months and it still makes me laugh: 

o Video game: Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s the closest I’ll get to actual nature in this city.
o Board game: I’m a big board game aficionado, especially intricate role playing stuff, but for some casual fun, nothing will make you distrust your friends more than Secret Hitler. 
o Graphic novel: The Watchmen, plus the HBO series. You can skip the film. 
o Podcast: Way too many on sports and fantasy sports. But for super interesting food for thought, Michael Lewis’ “Against the Rules” podcast. 
o Bonus culture essential: The Facebook group “Chaotic Hong Kong Expats”.

Food and Drink

o Breakfast: McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish. Hash Brown. Orange Juice. Need to support the client’s bottom line. ;) 
o Cheap bite: Any Chinese noodle shop or “siu mei” (roast house) shop. It’ll make you wonder why you ever go to expensive restaurants. 
o Favourite dish: I’m a sucker for “Lo Mei Gei” (sticky rice in lotus leaf). Depending on the size they come out at dim sum restaurants, you can tell how well the economy is going.

o Signature dish: I make a mean roast chicken and an even better chicken noodle soup.

o Guilty pleasure: A filet-o-fish after midnight.
o Bar: Anywhere that isn’t too loud
o Booze: Buillet bourbon, but I’ll settle for Jack Daniels. 
o Not booze: Iced Lemon Tea. I’m Cantonese at heart. 


o TV: Anything, but must be bigger than 50” or you aren’t doing it right.
o Where you document an idea: Evernote; you have to be able to document your ideas at any time. And I like knowing that hundreds of years after I’m gone, my weird thoughts will be all on a cloud somewhere. 
o Casual clothing: A fitting Henley shirt that I have in six different colours. I’m pretty basic. 
o Smart clothing: I have a really nice blue suit from Kenzo that I definitely overuse.

o Favourite social media feed: @surrealhk and @houseofhighlights
o Work program: Death by Powerpoint 
o Bonus kit essential:  More like a way to have less kit. Upgrade your door to a fingerprint or password lock. The stress lost from never having to think about keys ever again is priceless. That and minimalist wallets. 

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DDB Asia, Wed, 24 Nov 2021 14:11:00 GMT