Interview: LA and Ann Arbor Based Hook’s Executive Creative Director Tony Tung


By thelaegotist / / Now that you have settled in at Hook, what have you made your priorities for this first year? In 2016, I’ll be focusing on building on the creative integrity of the agency. We are placing a heavy emphasis on senior-level designers who can lead by example. Hook is a culture of makers and doers, and it is really important that our leaders can actually do what they direct others to perform. A lot of agencies don’t follow this model. People get beyond a certain level and no longer touch Photoshop, Illustrator or After Effects. They don’t sketch. They don’t create. We, instead, look for creative leaders who can walk the talk and show others how to do the same. How many people are on your team? We have 32 creatives—12 in Los Angeles and 20 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our team is composed of stunning designers, art directors, copywriters, creative directors, motion designers and a marvelous studio crew. We look for talent from a variety of backgrounds—not solely advertising—people who approach projects differently and apply ideas in innovative ways. Walk me through a recent day in your work life. On a given day, I might be reviewing creative work with my teams, doing concept and copywriting for a video script or helping create our next presentation. There are lots of discussions and some travel. Part of my focus is creating an atmosphere of learning from each other—I’m constantly learning from everyone around me. It allows everyone to stay inspired and to have a lot of fun. In between all of that, there’s an appropriate amount of caffeine, alcohol and food. What has changed most since you were last in a creative leadership role? The creative director role has expanded significantly to overlap with areas once thought of as exclusively the domain of strategists, planners and account managers. As a result, clients are using creative teams in completely novel ways. Creative teams have more influence than ever before on product design and the creation of brand experiences. This requires them to constantly stay abreast of recent developments in culture and technology. The problems we’re solving today are much more sophisticated because of the constantly changing landscape fueled by weekly adoptions of new mobile and social behavior. Hook has recently transitioned from a digital production company to more of a digital advertising agency. What is different? I think we’re an emerging breed of agency; one that tends to design, create and rapidly prototype the ideas nearly as fast as we can think and strategize around them. One point of feedback that’s consistent across our clients is that we are capable of high-quality work in almost a third of the time it took their previous partners. And it’s not because we pull the occasional late night, it’s that we cut out a lot of churn by getting them a tangible product that they can react to immediately. What advice would you give to students who want to pursue creative careers? I would give them two pieces of advice: (1) Learn about everything. Having a larger body of knowledge to pull from makes you a better creative problem-solver; which brings me to my second point. (2) Learn how to actually make things; don’t just be an idea person. Everyone is an idea person, but by learning to do—to express your creativity and have it manifest through the form of design, art, motion, or another medium—that’s how you will have those invaluable breakthrough moments and become a great creative.