McGann | Zhang Wins Air China, Launches First Campaign

By Patrick Coffee 

When last we checked in with McGann | Zhang–the agency launched by former W+K CD Geoff McGann and his creative partner Yichi Zhang–they were encouraging water conservation in L.A., founding their own charity org to address California’s ongoing drought and shaming actresses and rock stars alike for wasting natural resources.

Now, the newbie shop has a business announcement: Air China, one of Asia’s largest airlines which carried more than 50 million passengers in 2013, has signed the shop as its first U.S. AOR.

The debut campaign for the brand, which is aimed at English-speaking North Americans with Chinese and Filipino heritage, broke yesterday.


Like McGann | Zhang’s earlier work waxing poetic about the soul of the Pacific Ocean, it’s very abstract and comforting.

That was definitely the first time we’ve encountered the phrase “ascend to a dialogue,” but the whole point of the work is that travel and culture comprise a universal language of sorts, no?

At any rate, the message is clear: North Americans with family in Asia and elsewhere should choose Air China for all their travel needs.

Why now? And why McGann | Zhang? For the first question, the company wants to increase its market share by booking more international flights outside of China. On the second, the client’s chief marketer Ping Zhang gives us a big hint with this quote:

“As a global company, we have to deliver our message to customers with diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. With their talent, experience and most importantly, their multi-cultural DNA, McGann | Zhang can share our vision and let our voice be heard.”

The fact that Zhang is a bilingual social media star in his native China was definitely a big plus that may have led Air China to conclude that this agency was best prepared to establish the brand’s voice and “highlight the aspirational moments in life and travel” for English-speaking international travelers.

McGann himself has a take:

“It isn’t often that you get an opportunity to work with such a well respected company who is also open to new approaches for their branding. Our creative focuses heavily on voice and it’s especially exciting to be able to develop a voice driven platform that can speak across different languages and cultures.”

It’s not clear at the moment what form future work in this campaign will take. But we do hear that McGann | Zhang will soon join your agency in pitching major clients based in the United States.