Where It Began
I started my career as an Art Director at a really great little shop called Three Drunk Monkeys. Funny name, but a not so funny growth trajectory as they seriously sky-rocketed, became a world reknowned boutique hot shop, then rebranded as 'The Monkeys.' I learned a lot about creative ideas, and the craft of video and content here. In fact, the agency pioneered in content marketing strategy—just as the industry was at a pivotal point of growth.
When we started to win lots of awards, I started to dream of making more TV ads, because it sounded so glamorous at the time. So with the momentum of industry recognition (albeit by proxy) I jumped across to another famous Australian agency at the time called, The Campaign Palace.
Over the years that followed, I had the chance to lead a couple of very successful ‘above-the-line’ television and print ad campaigns like these:
Branding. Selling. Marketing.
My advertising career took me from one world-renowned agency to the next, including DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach), a real MadMen style agency if ever there was one! I became one of the industry’s youngest ever Creative Directors and produced creative strategies for the likes of…well, take a look.
Even though I was in an industry of one-way communication, I nevertheless had a bent toward exploring the intersection of technology and customer motivation. One example of this was to solve the problem for McDonald’s of communicating ‘taste’ through TV! It turns out, taste is 90% visual, so I worked with Oscar-winning cinematographer, Jim Frazier, to produce a bespoke camera lens that could translate the visceral experience of taste, using only audio and visuals. We shot food in slow motion, with full depth of field, in impossible angles, doing playful things. The resulting technique has been copied over and over to the point of being cliché, but we were the first!
Something was still definitely missing though.
I am quite a logical person, and I tend to think in inputs, and outputs. I began to feel uncomfortable with the wackiness of the advertising industry where creativity, whilst fun, didn’t present a direct correlation to business success. In above-the-line at least. When a sale did happen, there’s no real way to trace it back to the ads to prove the campaign was effective. At a macro level, you could certainly see trends but often the conversations with real people showed that people tuned out the minute the ad-break kicked in. They were instead looking at the other beloved screen in their pocket. So neither my mum, my dad, my brother, sister, or our friends ever saw a single one of my ads. How annoying! There had to be a more useful way to spend my time, efforts and career.
A Pivotal Moment
The Youtube Symphony Orchestra and Tourism Australia
Being a ‘digital native’ myself, I quickly realised that the greatest opportunities lie in digital marketing, for measurability, technological empowerment and social media. It was exactly what was missing from mass marketing. A pivotal moment occurred in 2011 when I created the multi-award winning campaign for Tourism Australia and The Youtube Symphony Orchestra. The campaign aired in NYC, Australia and all over the world…and I was hooked.
Facebook and Telstra Partnership
Then as social media marketing was just taking off, personalisation became not only possible but necessary. A team of us got together in a hotel room (literally), and brainstormed until we had an idea that was worthy of the moment. We came up with yet another world-first: Voice Status Updates on Facebook. Uptake was so sudden, that Telstra made it a standard feature of their phone plans across that entire market segment. The concept has since died away as yet another experiment that didn’t go the distance, but in an adaptive environment I’ve learned that being fast, and experimentation, is the key to success.