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Vice appoints Genie Gurnani as head of creative for Asia-Pacific

Vice has appointed Genie Gurnani as head of creative for Asia-Pacific. Gurnani will be leading Vice as well as its brand creative offering Virtue. Based out of the Singapore office, Gurnani will be oversee creative teams in Australia, India, Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia and report to Virtue Asia-Pacific managing director Aaron Pearce.

Apart from a career in advertising, Gurnani is a drag performer who starred in the reality TV series Drag Race Thailand, the official Thai franchise of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Gurnani was most recently the global creative director of Unilever business at J Walter Thompson, working on Sunsilk and Lux Hair across Asia.

They have previously worked with agencies like the Dentsu Aegis Network and Leo Burnett in the region, after starting in advertising in the United States on the strategic planning side of the business.

Speaking about the decision to join Vice, Gurnani said, “It’s a brand that lives for the audience and what’s happening in their world at this very moment.

“As a performer, that mindset is what it takes to inspire a reaction in the people who are watching, whether that’s laughter, tears, anger, or even conversation about an important issue. I’m excited to be working with a team that thinks the same way about the work we do every day.”

Pearce added: “Virtue is already accomplishing a lot as an agency globally. And now we have Genie on board to lead the charge creatively as we grow both Vice and Virtue in Asia-Pacific. We help the world’s biggest brands intersect with culture.

It’s great to have someone on the team who not only has regional creative chops but also lives at such a unique nexus of fashion, entertainment, politics, and identity in their own life.”

In a previous interview with Mumbrella, Gurnani had spoken against the “homogenised culture” in ad agencies and said: “Agencies talk about diversity a lot: we hear about it from recruiters and conferences.

“But what prevents diversity is the homogenised culture. When leaders and hiring managers interview candidates, they have a stronger connection with people like themselves – an unspoken bias that’s immune to the diversity efforts.

“[Bosses] don’t want to expose me to certain clients because they are worried about what I look like or how I will behave in a pitch – whether I would scare somebody.

“This [discrimination] happens to almost every woman in advertising; people assume you cannot work on a certain type of business because you’re not a straight male. A lot of the time people cannot separate the work you’re doing from who you are.

“I usually happen to be the person brought in to ‘spice things up’, so it’s not prevented me from having the same opportunities as other people, but generally it is a barrier to finding a diverse group of people in your agency.

“There are many who are not as weird or strange as me, but they don’t quite fit in with that group of people. Those are the ones who fall through the gap.”

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