Ad Chat - Richard Tseng

Photo © Adrian Chan

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Richard Tseng for a bit in Cannes, discussing everything between heaven and earth related to advertising, new media, story-telling, ideas and ethics, and I think he's a razor sharp guy. He's currently freelancing at CP+B in Toronto as a copywriter. You can find all his web-stuff on and follow @richardtseng on twitter.

What's your favorite funny story about yourself?
I was once chased for 3 blocks by 5 gangsta drug dealers because, when I walked by their alley and they told me they had what I wanted, I pretended to mistake them for gay prostitutes offering their services. I used to be a crazy asshole whenever I got drunk.

What piece of art (movie, book, music, painting, etc) has influenced you most? How or why?
Psmith, Journalist by PG Wodehouse. The author's hilarious, and the titular character carries himself with the unflappable aplomb I'm working to one day have.

Who was your favorite mentor and why?
Joe Rogan, whose podcast and life philosophies have made me much less of a douche bag than I used to be. And because I listen to podcasts at the gym, he's made me significantly less fat too.

What's one thing that excites you about the future of advertising?
The app as ad. More and more brands are adding real tangible value (as opposed to mere clutter) to people's lives, which in turn makes these brands more relevant. Great branded apps encapsulate this behaviour perfectly.

If you could meet with anyone in history (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci or David Eagleman, renaissance people generally make for the best conversationalists.

What’s your favorite website/blog, and why? It turns your RSS feed into this brilliantly curated personal blog for you to read whenever you like. Google Reader with better style.

What's your trick to break out of a creative block?
I use the Pomodoro method. You set a timer for 25 minutes, and commit to scrawling away until the timer rings. Sometimes I pretend I'm somebody else tackling the problem, sometimes I try to do what's most unexpected or the total opposite of what's called for.

Who is your advertising hero and why?
Howard Gossage. He believed our business needed to be ethical or it would ruin itself, that advertising is a conversation, and that the target should be having as much fun with the ad as the ad people.

Tell us one of the things on your bucket list.
Participate in a shamanic ayahuasca ceremony, I like tea.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Yes, your portfolio should have ads in them, but that doesn't mean they should look anything like ads--persuasive communication is what agencies want. But what do I know? I just started myself.

Previous Ad Chats
Claudiu Florea Managing Partner - Wunderkid, Romania
Snorre Martinsen of Saatchi & Saatchi Oslo
Laura Jordan Bambach Executive Creative Director LBi
Simon White Rapp, London
Richard Gorodecky of Amsterdam Worldwide
Ray Page of Tribal DDB
Adam Pierno of Off Madison Ave.
Edward Boches of Mullen
Dirk Singer of Rabbit, UK
Gareth Kay of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners
Tim Brunelle of Hello Viking
Rob Schwartz of TBWA\Chiat\Day
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