Playing the Long Game ...


When we entered the China market in 1999, I shared with our staff that our long-term success in Asia depended on China.

I no longer believe this.

Instead, it’s clear to me that our long-term success on the international front depends on China.

When we experienced turmoil in our China operation a few years ago, it hurt not only in China, but also across the globe. I remember thinking that we had squandered our first-mover advantage and now faced the daunting task of essentially rebuilding the operation.

Yet, here we are, Feb. 6, 2017, and our China team is stronger than ever, a testament to the efforts of Cassandra Cheong, Lydia Lau and Jenny Chan who held the “fort” together during the rebuilding phase. Key to the process, they recruited two talented individuals, Ada Song and Frank Zhang, who now serve as our deputy GMs in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively.

And today I can officially share that Jason Cao has joined the Agency as the GM of our China operation.

Jason Cao Hoffman Agency in San Francisco

This is a big deal.

He’s a builder.

He knows the tech industry in China, with the past 10 years split between EMG, Text100 and WagEd.

He’s a big thinker, yet recognizes the importance of the little things in executing campaigns that exceed the client’s expectations.

Just as important as these qualities, his value system — what he stands for as person — is perfectly in sync with what the Agency strives to be. It’s not just about the numbers. How we get there matters.

It took over three years to find Jason. The wait was worth it (official news release at the end of the post).

With our core China leadership team in place, it’s going to be fun to watch how our China team evolves in the coming years. While it’s inevitable that the reality TV show emanating from the White House will throw some zingers China’s way, it’s a long-term play for us.

In a sense, we’re starting a new era in China.

The photo below depicts a site inspection in 1999 before the build-out for our first office space in China commenced in Beijing.

Hoffman Agency Beijing site inspection

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m eyeing the ceiling to give the impression that I actually understand the HVAC duct and fittings. It was an exciting time when we officially moved into what the locals called the “Chocolate Building” in 2000.

Unfortunately, the building started to fray at the edges (to be kind) over the years. I’m not privy to the operational budget for the building, but the owners clearly went on an austerity kick believing that carpet should last “forever,” and a fussy Internet came with the territory. There was something weirdly symbolic about the building and our China team being on parallel paths.

But we changed the trajectory.

After 15 years of residing in the Chocolate Building, we found a new Beijing home in the China World Office last year, a spiffy building and one that befits our China team.

World-class and built for the long haul.

Side note: I touch on communications in China fairly often. Here are a few posts on the topic:


The Hoffman Agency Names Jason Cao to Head China Operations

HONG KONG, February 6, 2017 — The Hoffman Agency has announced that technology and communications veteran Jason Cao will lead its China operations as general manager. Cao will be responsible for overseeing the operations of Beijing and Shanghai, cultivating a breeding ground for many of tomorrow’s communications leaders, and providing strategic counsel to key clients, with a strong focus on Chinese brands expanding their operations globally.

Cao joins The Hoffman Agency from WE Communications China where he was the general manager of the Beijing operations, tech practice head and business development lead. With 18 years of experience in the communications industry, Cao has exercised extensive strategic, creative and operating capabilities. He has also been instrumental in the development and growth of key global and regional clients in a wide array of industries, including information technology, consumer electronics, automation, manufacturing, chemical and energy.

“We are confident that Jason’s professional reputation and rich leadership experience in China will have a profound impact on our clients and on driving the business,” said Cassandra Cheong, managing director, Asia Pacific, The Hoffman Agency. “His valuable and extensive experience in leadership positions across China’s business consulting and technology industries are indicative of his expertise in managing a diverse and complex set of clients and employee needs in this dynamic market. With broad insight into market transformation and management innovation, Jason will play a critical role in ensuring that The Hoffman Agency China surpasses its goals in 2017 and beyond.”

“It’s an honor to be joining the team,” said Cao. “2017 will be a tipping point as we experience technological shifts in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, Blockchain and Big Data. With enterprises jumping onto the ‘big tech’ bandwagon, I hope to leverage our collaborative approach across geographies and cultures to build on our powerful brand and strong business foundation, while hammering home our ‘big tech’ proposition to navigate this fast-moving ecosystem.”

Under Cao’s leadership, coupled with his proven track record in business development, The Hoffman Agency China operations is off to a strong start in 2017 with new client wins, including Thales, a global technology leader for the aerospace, transport, defence and security markets, and Business France, the French government’s economic development entity.

One of the few independent PR consultancies with global reach, The Hoffman Agency brings the best of both worlds to its clients — the high touch of a boutique, with the sophistication in services associated with the mega shops. The Agency operates nine offices across Asia, the U.S. and Europe.


About the Hoffman Agency
The Hoffman Agency ( is an independent PR agency that helps companies in markets of technical complexity communicate compelling messages across the world. Thanks to a unique global infrastructure and culture, The Hoffman Agency takes a collaborative approach to implementing multi-country programs. The Hoffman Agency comprises nine offices across the globe, including San Jose, California and Vancouver, Washington, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.


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