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Introducing interTrend’s new Executive Creative Director, Jeffrey Ng (a.k.a. jeffstaple)

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Photo: Lindsey Ingram

Last week at the Psychic Temple, Jeffrey Ng was formally introduced to the staff of interTrend as the creative agency’s new Executive Creative Director. I asked Jeff (a.k.a. jeffstaple of Staple Pigeon, Staple Design, and Reed Space) and the Long Beach-based group’s CEO and co-founder Julia Huang to talk about the hire, how it happened, and why they are excited about it.

iT: Julia, Jeff is a bold choice for Executive Creative Director of an Asian advertising agency. Can you describe what he brings to the team?
JH: My friend John Jay at GX (Wieden+Kennedy) once said to me that a great Creative Director makes those around him or her better and lifts the collective bar of excellence through inspiration. It’s never about the ego or creating a great individual portfolio. Jeff fits that bill rather nicely.

iT: Did you have to convince Jeff that he was right for the job or was it vice versa? None of the above?
JH: The funny thing is, I’ve known Jeff for several years and we have worked on different projects together but never for interTrend. A couple of months ago, we had a discussion creativity in advertising is so different now. Something clicked and the conversation organically flowed to how he could take on the role of Executive Creative Director for interTrend.

iT: What does his accepting the position say about what interTrend has evolved into and where it’s going?
JH: Multicultural marketing has evolved into something very different from when I started the company. Asian American advertising and marketing, even more so. Reaching the target market for our clients is still very important from a return-on-investment standpoint. But we are focusing more and more on cultural influence of Asian Americans. As Jeff quoted our mutual friend Dave Choe in his kick-off presentation: “This is the absolute best f*cking time to be Asian!”

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Photo: Lindsey Ingram

iT: Jeff, I love how you cited the ascendance of Asians around the world as your prime reason for taking the gig. What’s your take on interTrend’s relationship with Asian culture in America?
JN: I really think they’ve been paving the road—perhaps unknowingly. I’ve never spoken with Julia about this, but I would imagine she saw a necessity in the marketplace and she realized she could fulfill it. The original necessity was that there was a need for U.S.-based companies to communicate effectively with Asians. As time has progressed, that messaging has needed to be more and more sophisticated. In my opinion, Asians are very often at the pinnacle forefront of almost every facet of culture. We are in a very enviable position. As a company or brand, it’s no longer “You should communicate to Asians.” Now it’s “You must communicate with Asians—and it better be damn good.”

iT: Is there anything about your career trajectory that makes the timing right on your side as well?
JN: I have founded three incredible companies and have a team of 35 people, mostly in New York City. We have a menswear collection (Staple Pigeon), a boutique creative agency (Staple Design), and a lifestyle retail concept (Reed Space). In some way, I feel that I’ve reached a very comfortable position in all these industries. There’s still more to do, but I think with my guidance the team will get us there. Now I’m really interested in doing things that move the needle. So I want to apply my learnings from the past 20 years to making things shake, rattle, and roll in the mainstream.

iT: Julia, I’m sure you’ve considered that more conservative clients may not “get” Jeff’s body of work. What is your response to that notion?
JN: The kind of pedigree clients or advertising agencies are looking for in an Executive Creative Director, while still important, is not the priority anymore. Consumers are looking for authenticity in brand messages and Jeff gets it.  And I’m confident that clients will understand that he gets it, too. Through his many successful businesses, Jeff has always understood the pulse of what’s happening in the world of culture.

iT: Jeff, as a guy whose business and client work have always seemed very personal, how do you feel about taking on a mass-market audience?
JN: It may seem like my work has been tied to me personally, but I’ve always had the ability to separate emotions from the reality of doing business. I think the thing I have been deliberate about is being “authentic.” That’s either authentic to the project, to the client, to the consumer, or, ideally, all of the above.

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Photo: Lindsey Ingram

iT: What are some of interTrend’s recent campaigns that you are a fan of? Why, and what would you like to do more of?
JN: Interestingly enough, the most impressive campaigns have been the in-house ones. The summer internship and the Psychic Temple poster campaign were standouts. This tells me a lot. Our clients need to allow us to spread our wings and show them more of what our capabilities are. This isn’t their problem, though—this is our problem. It’s an inability on our part to showcase our skills or instill a level of confidence. I don’t expect this to happen overnight, but I do think a major goal of mine is to push that boundary as far as possible.

iT: I’m pretty sure I’ve heard you say that New York City is the greatest place on Earth. Is there anything about Long Beach that you look forward to being around more often?
JN: Clean air, sunny skies, and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles.

iT: Julia, when the office moves into the Psychic Temple, what do you think about employee uniforms/work wear by Staple?
JH: To be honest, with so many birds residing in and around the Psychic Temple we just need to be careful that our everyday outfits don’t get stained by the famous Staple pigeons above!

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Photo: Lindsey Ingram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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