How This Punk Rocker Plans to Woo Bloomberg Media’s Sophisticated Audience

Allan Wai on his new role and challenges


Current gig Global commercial creative director at Bloomberg Media

Previous gig Manager, design and production, HBO Go

Age 43

Twitter @allanwai

Adweek: You're Bloomberg's first global commercial creative director. What does that mean?

Allan Wai: My job is to build our creative team. So the idea that we create these awesome brand experiences across our multitude of platforms, whether it's digital video, sponsored events, infographics—native content is sort of a big buzzword right now. We've got the luxury of having the Bloomberg Media empire across all these platforms and verticals. We really want to take advantage of that real estate.

What makes you right for this gig?

The thing I do, I build teams. Even dating back to my agency days, that's the thing I really enjoy doing. I love building creative teams. I love influencing the culture, the process. Really it's the team that does all the work. They're the ones that make me look good. So what qualifies me is that I have a history of building really successful creative teams that have gone on to build brands and win a ton of awards, so I expect to be able to do the same thing for Bloomberg.

Bloomberg's audience is probably quite different than HBO's and MTV's. What challenges do you foresee?

If you consider our demo, that is a really great consumer base of industry leaders. People who influence businesses, people who influence purchasing power. Our consumer is a very powerful niche audience, so one of my challenges will be how do we create great brand experiences that speak to this very sophisticated, very discerning consumer.

What would that brand experience look like? What would they want?

I think they want something that doesn't talk down to them. These are really smart, affluent people. I think they want something more than what they're getting. There seems to be a gold rush toward native content, but that's a nice buzzy word for advertorial. How do we evolve that experience? How do we make that more interactive? Is there a way to come up with new experiences? It's an interesting challenge. And that's why I'm here to build a team where we can innovate, and quite frankly fail at some of the ideation, and hopefully come up with some new ad products, some new experiences. If we're catering to this very influential and affluent consumer base, how can we tap into that?

Do you have the loudest hair at Bloomberg?

I hope not! [laughs] But yeah, it's fun. I never set out for it to be this signature thing. Quite frankly, I'm just this old punk rocker. And I've been lucky that I've been able to evolve a lot, but I've been messing with my hair for a really long time. Back when I was in the music industry I changed my hair color every month, which sounds crazy when I think about it now. Today I'm still surprised at the amount of attention it gets. My daughter who is 6 has pink hair. She asked for it and I can't say no to that, right? I really don't have a good reason for it. So we did it and it was a huge hit at school. It's just hair. If you mess it up, it grows back.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 31 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.