TBWA\Toronto names Nguyen managing director

July 10, 2013  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

George Nguyen arrived in Toronto last week from a country renowned for its humidity and intense rainstorms. He immediately felt at home.

“We were worried we brought the rainy season with us,” said Nguyen, who was officially announced as managing director of TBWA\Toronto on Wednesday, following a four-and-a-half year stint leading TBWA\Vietnam.

He will partner with Allen Oke, who was recently named executive creative director. Both men report into Jay Bertram, president of TBWA\Latin America and Canada. Nguyen’s first day is July 15.

While in Vietnam, Nguyen oversaw the development of the agency’s digital practice and its integration with other TBWA offerings, growing the staff from 16 to 90 people.

Speaking with Marketing Wednesday, Nguyen said that experience in global markets is becoming increasingly important for agency staffers in the global economy.

“I think it’s a requirement for all folks these days – with the global economy, a lot of great businesses are expanding,” he said. “Part of the attraction of coming to Toronto is the amazing Canadian businesses that are poised to expand beyond their borders. Hopefully I can bring that expertise here for people who are looking for that kind of global perspective.”

Born in Colorado and raised in California, Nguyen’s professional career has included stints with Strawberry Frog in New York, where he worked on the global repositioning of the Indian automotive company Mahindra & Mahindra; Lowe New York, where he worked on Rexona’s North American business as well as XM Satellite Radio and GMC; Arnold in Boston, where he worked on Volkswagen of America and the American Legacy Foundation’s award-winning Truth anti-smoking campaign. He started his career at DDB in Seattle during the dotcom era.

He arrives at in interesting juncture for TBWA\Toronto, which lost the Visa account to BBDO as part of a global review in September and parted ways with WestJet the next month after barely a year as its agency of record.

“The thing with Visa was part of a global alignment – it was nothing that happened with the office in Toronto,” said Nguyen. “It also affected us in Asia and all over the world. It’s unfortunate that these things happen, but they do; it’s no fault of the team here.

“I’m not privy to what happened with WestJet, but from an operational standpoint, from what I’ve seen it seems like a really solid, strong operation and I’m here to add to it,” he said.

Nguyen said he is thrilled to return to a western market after spending the past several years in an emerging market. While Vietnamese clients have reached a point where they are keen to have global expertise, they are still developing the necessary marketing infrastructure, he said.

“It’s nice to come back to a place were there are very sophisticated marketers and and [where] technology is at the forefront,” he said. “In Vietnam we did a lot of very basic deployment.

“Marketing is and was at a very direct and tactical level, so it’s exciting to be back in a place where there are a lot more layers involved and a lot more ways to reach consumers.”

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