How did you get started in the advertising business and what are some of the key lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I decided at 18 that advertising offered a good blend of creative disciplines from writing, to music and directing all the things I loved doing at school and with friends socially. It felt like a perfect fit. I was right. I’ve enjoyed it from day one and it’s still enjoyable.
As the largest independent marketing communications group in Australia, what advantages does the BWM Group have over its competition?
This year is our one year anniversary since buying back the BWM business from Enero. We’ve revelled in our ability to be our own decision-makers again and got straight to work, re-engineering the business to pursue our vision for the company and establish our positioning as an agency that creates ‘Ideas that gets Australians talking’… real people, taxi drivers, friends, relatives.
It means we have a team of people who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, have a creatively bold approach and carry a much stronger commitment to our clients’ success.
You have recently bolstered your team with a host of new creative hires. Tell us about the team structure, working environment and culture at BWM.
We’ve re-designed our team so we have the right skills and are working to provide truly integrated solutions across all divisions of the BWM Group. We have hired exceptional calibre of talent to ensure the best quality of work and freshes ideas.
Our different divisions in the group include digital agency Sputnik and our PR agency Cox Inall Communications. Together with BWM, we have the ability to offer full 360 degree communications skills and services to clients. Current projects entail our teams working collaboratively to deliver central organising ideas across all channels including branded content.
What is your creative ethos?
Create ideas that get Australians talking about a brand to each other. Advocacy in social media and environment.
BWM’s clients include REA, Leggo’s, Sanitarium, nib, Kmart, GE Money, Brown Brothers, BOQ, Racing Victoria, the Department of Health and Ageing, Masserati, Ferrari, Simplot (John West, Leggos, Birds Eye, I&J). Which recent campaigns would you highlight as some of the agency’s best work?
Kmart has been phenomenal. From the OK in-store display, to Bom Bom. It just keeps getting more popular and successful. Also, Bank of Queensland (BOQ) from internal cultural programs, to film, print and design. It’s a new fresh approach for the category.
You have been on the judging panel for many awards including the Australian film jury at the Cannes International Ad Festival, the Australian Writers and Art Directors Awards (AWARD), the Asian Advertising Awards and the Lynx Awards in the Middle East. Can you give us a few insights into what it’s like to sit on the judging panel and what successful campaigns typically have in common?
Sitting on judging panels with some of the best in the Australian and International creative industry is always an honour because you learn so much and exchange ideas and insights.
Successful campaigns come in all shapes and sizes but the common thread is they are able to launch an emotional connection with a brand that kick starts conversations with their target audience. Now, the role of good advertising is to start a social explosion either through traditional media, or through clever online content that integrates amongst our personal online spaces.
But to stay relevant and attractive to consumers, advertisers must work harder than ever. The ideas and ads that get Australians talking – and create brand resonance with consumers – are the most successful in generating online and face to face discussion and consequently customer advocacy.
You have won many national and international awards for both creativity and effectiveness. Tell us about one of these award winning campaigns and how the creative idea behind it came about.
BigPond Great Wall of China i.e. ‘Rabbits’. It focuses on the father son relationship which is unusual as you see a lot more mother lead ideas. It uses guilt to make you buy the product.
And Selleys ‘Handyman’. It exploits the relationship between tradies, housewives and lazy husbands. “Do it yourself before someone does it for you”. Again exploiting fear and guilt. Ultimately insights that we can all relate to provide the most powerful advertising.
What has been your most rewarding client win?
There have been many rewarding wins, too many to specify. You work so hard in a pitch that every win becomes “one of the best”.
In what way(s) has the client / agency relationship changed since you began your career?
The advertising world is forever evolving, but the value of forging a long term partnership between a brand and an agency has been the same since I began my career. Bringing people together to work collaboratively on a single brand cultivates a deeper understanding of the brand values, positioning and desired results. This produces consistent brand delivery, consistent results and work becomes easier as you develop certain understandings and don’t have to waste time figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
You have just launched ‘Dog Buys House’ for Veda. Tell us about some of the goals behind this campaign.
Preliminary research told us the target audience didn’t know why they should care about their credit history, and that the concept of a score or rating was a touchy subject, as people don’t like to admit they might have a problem with getting credit.
We needed to show the usefulness of a VedaScore if you want to apply for credit. But people can be quite sensitive about their credit rating, so a dog buying a house takes the edge off that fear.
What have been some of the best ads on Australian TV this year?
Carlton Draught Police Chase springs to mind as a really fresh ad. Also think you can’t mention best ads of the year without crediting Dumb Ways to Die.