Wain Choi returns to Canada to join ZAK

Zulu Alpha Kilo has landed a new executive creative director with a global reputation.

Wain Choi started his professional career in Toronto, but has spent the last 16 years on the world stage, including nearly 10 years as global executive creative director and chief creative officer for Cheil Worldwide, based in Seoul.

ZAK founder and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh said he’s been looking for an executive creative director since Allen Oke left for Huge in 2017. He tasked a creative recruiter with finding someone who knew the Canadian market, but also had global experience with a record of brilliant work. “It was not an easy brief,” said Mroueh.

In the last three years—while taking on the ECD responsibilities—Mroueh interviewed more than 30 candidates. When he heard Choi was thinking about returning to Canada, he reached out to him. “We connected, he flew here to visit the agency in person and six months later, here he is,” said Mroueh. “Although there’s a lot of amazing talent here in Canada, what I really loved about Wain is his global experience and creative pedigree.”

Choi started with the agency last Monday.

“We have a global creative mandate and I know Wain’s experience will help us take our work to another level,” said Mroueh.

Choi graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design and started in advertising in the early 1990s. He made his name at Cossette and Y&R in Canada before moving to Brussels to work for Dentsu, and then to Korea, first with Ogilvy and then taking the global creative role with Cheil.

Most recently he’s been chief creative officer and executive vice president at Seoul’s CJ Live City—a new multipurpose development by cultural conglomerate CJ Group that includes a new arena, studio complex and theme park.

Choi has worked on global brands including Coca-Cola, Ford, GM, Nike, Samsung and Toyota F1. He has won multiple awards, judged at every major awards show, and been a featured speaker at Cannes Lions, Dubai Lynx, and AdAsia Bali.

Last year, Choi spoke with Lurzer’s Archive about his start as an intern at Ogilvy in Toronto, and how his formative years in Canada shaped his creative ethos.

“I did everything from drawing storyboards, cutting foam core boards and I worked on all briefs, even if they were not assigned to me,” he said. “From the beginning, I knew the importance of ideas rather than execution especially with the limited budgets we had in Canada; finding ideas that could be easily executed and media that didn’t cost an arm and leg. This taught me well that being simple was the best.”

David Brown