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People: Denise Tee, Wunderman Thompson HK creative director, joins Cannes Lions See It Be It program

HONG KONG – The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity released last week its list of participants for the 2020 edition of their renowned ‘See It Be It’ gender equality initiative. Selected from over 800 international applicants, the program’s 15 participants included Wunderman Thompson Hong Kong creative director Denise “Deng” Tee. 

The Hong Kong-based creative described her initial reaction as a mixture of, “Honored, flattered, and slightly awkward.” Characteristically candid, Tee said she had not set out to make waves with her application. “I’m not very conventional, nor am I extremely liberal regarding sexuality, stereotypes, creativity, or leadership. I was clear that I didn’t want to be anyone’s role model, but I wouldn’t mind being someone’s mentor.”

“Denise represents all the best qualities,” says Wunderman Thompson HK executive creative director Carlos Camacho. “She is first and foremost a super nice, warm, fun and joyful person. These qualities mean people want to work with her, and that is true of our clients too. Denise nurtures people within her team (which is something we ask of everyone in the agency) and, of course, she is incredibly talented!”

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Beginning her career in Manila, Tee has racked up an impressive portfolio of work in renowned shops such as TBWA\SMP and Ace Saatchi & Saatchi in Manila, as well as stints in BBH and BBDO Singapore. Known for her innate design sense and eye for detail, Tee’s output has scored metal at shows like Cannes Lions, Clio, One Show, LIA, and D&AD, in addition to being featured in Best Ads on TV, Advertising Age, Campaign Brief Asia, and adobo magazine. 

Since 2014, ‘See It Be It’ has served as the Cannes Lions’ primary initiative to increase female representation in the creative industry. Held during the Festival proper, the program aims to empower women to attain positions of leadership and supports them in reaching their full potential via a series of talks and workshops with some of the industry’s top thought leaders. 

According to Camacho, Tee’s inclusion in the program is indicative of, “[The] brilliant female creative talent in Hong Kong and, of course, in our Wunderman Thompson office. I hope that this serves as a source of inspiration for all young women who are starting out in our industry. Awesome things can happen.”

While the 2020 edition of ‘See It, Be It’ has been pushed back to 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, Tee reiterates the program’s significance: “Whether you’re aware of it or not, the statistics don’t lie – our world is mostly patriarchal. ‘See It, Be It’ aims to level the playing field. You’ve got your boys club and your locker room talk – well, now we’ve got ours.”

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