The 10 silliest LinkedIn profile pics in adland

Last time I checked, LinkedIn was a social network for professionals. But it seems that no one told people working in advertising in Asia.

Now, I realise that creative types will be ‘creative’. And that comes with the need to be noticed. To look the part. To be wacky. To look as hipsterish as possible, even in the dowdiest of settings. To always wear sunglasses in photographs. And never look squarely into a camera lens. That, apparently, wouldn’t be creative at all.

But if there was ever a website that is about personal branding, LinkedIn is it. Much more than Facebook in my view, which appears to be a playground for attention-seeking ego-maniacs who go out of their way to look as shamelessly ridiculous as possible. To show the world how fun they are.

Not so, LinkedIn. Your clients look at it. Your bosses look at it. Your future bosses look at it. It’s not as fun as Facebook. It’s not much more fun than going for an interview. But it’s sort of important.

After 20 minutes of peering at peoples’ profile pictures on LinkedIn, simply by typing the words ‘creative’ and ‘Asia’ into the search box, it occurred to me that even the hippest, most down-with-it of clients might just suspect that the ad industry is not to be taken very seriously at all.

And if you think this article is mean-spirited, bear in mind that anyone with an internet connection can find you on LinkedIn. It doesn’t take a snooping journalist like me.

So. Where to begin?

Wayne LauLet’s start with smokin’ Wayne Lau, a senior art director at Havas Worldwide in Singapore.

Lau is a creative of undoubted talent. He’s done some brilliant work for Kia, which won him an effie. He has a Cannes Lion and an AdFest Lotus to his name. And seasoned names in advertising such as Patrick Dsouza at OgilvyOne in Malaysia, Ed Cheong at DDB Singapore and Charlie Blower at Blak Labs have recommended him on LinkedIn. But the cigarette? Yes, smoking was cool. Like, twenty years ago. (Or maybe it’s a lollipop. Either way, sorry Wayne. No.)

Jeff Cheong on LinkedInNow how about one of the region’s most respected digital practitioners?

Yes, Jeff Cheong, the recently promoted VP of Tribal Asia. This is the man who helped TBWA win one of the most prestigious pitches in Asia, Singapore Airlines, not too long ago, has spoken at TedX, and has built Tribal from a motley foursome into a powerhouse of 95. Not just filled with creatives, his profile tells us, but scientists, business consultants, technologists, architects, musicians and engineers. And here he is, claustrophobically packaged into the shape of a triangle. How very, erm, edgy.

Rob CampbellOn to one of the region’s most brilliant strategists – the outspoken, the inimitable head of planning for Wieden + Kennedy, Rob Campbell

Now you could argue that this is “on brand” for a thinker – not to mention vociferous, opinionated blogger/ranter – of Campbell’s mould.

And there’s no doubting that the Birkenstocks-loving Notts Forest fan looks rather amusing as a bewinged, bespectabled cherub dispensing petals from his flowery wreath.

Paul G Roberts LinkedInBut could there be a better self branding strategy? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the sight of that belly and chubby knees that bothers me.

Now on to someone who’s decided that a framed picture of Andy Warhol, who through his genius bridged the uncomfortable gulf between advertising and art, is a better option than his own face.

Paul G. Roberts is founder of Australian branding firm Desire, which specialises in prestige brands. According to his LinkedIn Norman Chuaprofile, he’s “considered an authority on the marketing of prestige brands and a pioneering entrepreneur in commercialising the exploding world of digital possibilities.” But I’m not convinced his strength is marketing himself. If I he knew what he looked like, I might tell him.

Now on to XM Asia Pacific copywriter Norman Chua, who apparently sees the world through the plastic 3D glasses handed out at the cinema. Far out. Yes, it’s cruel to pick on someone who hasn’t been in the industry long. But for everyone’s sake, upgrade the eyewear mate.

Marcus ZhuNow get ready people, we’re goin’ gansta. It’s Marcus Zhu, the creative director at Karma Advertising in Shanghai, formerly of Wieden + Kennedy, who’s worked with clients anyone would kill for – Nike, Adidas, Li Ning, Apple, Intel, Google, Johnnie Walker, Chanel and various illustrious others.

And maybe I’m being a miserable cynic. But if I was a client, I’m not entirely sure I’d look at this picture and think, yep, here is a man I can trust with my very stretched marketing budget. What if I didn’t pay him? Would he shoot me?

Steve Elrick LinkedInNow on to Steve Elrick. There’s not a lot that that Elrick didn’t achieve in the many years that he ran BBH Asia Pacific’s creative department as regional ECD. And there’s not a lot that needs to be said about his LinkedIn profile picture, except for the strange desire to pull on the fluffy balls hanging from his mouse hat.

Again, perhaps this is “on brand” for Elrick. His descriptions of his roles at various agencies hint at the genius of his craft. And they’re funny. What did he do at Hall Advertising in Scotland? He “writed copy”. And at Bates in Hong Kong? He “did what a copywriter does”. Fair enough, but those Barrie Seppingsears. Please explain.

Now how about the creative director overseeing one of the bluest of blue-chip clients IBM, Barrie Seppings at Ogilvy & Mather in Singapore.

It seems that the seasoned Seppings has stepped out of a scene from The Matrix into a nightmarish world made of American mustard.

It might appear that only men see LinkedIn as a playground for their own personal brand of wackiness. Not so. Hanyi Hua, Hanyi (Zebra) Huabetter known as Zebra, is a senior copywriter at Grey in Hong Kong, who has a large yellow butterfly on her face.

Again, undoubtedly brilliant, the former Wieden + Kennedy creative (what is it with Wieden people??) who speaks four languages has three very strong LinkedIn recommendations next to her name. But though hypnotically cool, I also somehow find her picture just a little bit scary.

Thierry HalbrothAlmost as scary is the ghost who has photobombed the profile pic of the ECD of McCann Hong Kong, Thierry Halbroth, who is also the committee chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies.

Now maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe I’m hopelessly square and just don’t understand what ‘creative’ people are trying to do on LinkedIn.

Robin HicksAnd to be fair my LinkedIn profile pic is pretty horrendous. Someone told me yesterday I look like I’m about ready to kill somebody in a cruel and horrible way. Someone else said I look like a paedophile.

The truth is, I didn’t think very hard about which picture to use, because I really wasn’t thinking very hard about the people who might come across it. I really should change it.

Robin Hicks

Seen worse? Send them to me and I’ll add them to the list: robin.hicks@mumbrella.asia

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