THE CHANGE(D) AGENCY

Erin Mcken­zie sits down with FCB CEO Dan Martin to see how his English in­flu­ence is tak­ing the agency into the fu­ture.

New Zealand Marketing - - Contents -

When the high-en­ergy English­man Dan Martin joined FCB in the mid­dle of last year, it was clear he had a very dif­fer­ent style to that of his rea­son­ably un­der­stated pre­de­ces­sors. Now that he’s set­tled in to the CEO role, he talks to Erin Mcken­zie about his tran­si­tion to New Zealand life, his goals for the agency, his de­sire to push the lo­cal ad in­dus­try fur­ther onto the world stage and the ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis caused by his cuff­links.

Eight months ago, after a global search for a re­place­ment CEO, FCB wel­comed Dan Martin to the busi­ness. To wel­come him from the UK, FCB’S ‘cul­tural am­bas­sador’ Peter Ve­gas handed him an All Blacks jersey and a framed pic­ture of FCB’S global chief ex­ec­u­tive Carter Mur­ray. Bryan Craw­ford, who led the search to re­place Brian van den Hurk, com­mented that “Dan’s body lan­guage would in­di­cate this may take some get­ting used to!”

But as we sit down to talk about his as­pi­ra­tions for the agency – and the broader New Zealand in­dus­try – his ac­ces­sories show that he’s al­ready em­braced his new home: he’s wear­ing a pair of sil­ver fern cuff­links, a gift from his eight-year-old son (who has quickly be­come a mas­sive All Blacks fan).

“I al­ready see my­self as an adopted Kiwi,” he says.

Dur­ing his ten­ure at Ogilvy, Martin se­cured Kro­nen­bourg UK’S so­cial ad­ver­tiser of-the-year sta­tus, drove be­havioural sci­ence into the heart of the UK’S big­gest su­per­mar­ket, Tesco, and led SCJ, the world’s largest ac­count win of 2012. Also, while at WCRS he led his client Trans­port for Lon­don to be­ing voted UK ad­ver­tiser of the year by Cam­paign mag­a­zine and won the MINI global busi­ness. This built on a track record of be­ing a key part of teams and brands that had won nu­mer­ous Cannes gold Li­ons with a va­ri­ety of clients.

And judg­ing by Martin's ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, he shouldn't have too much dif­fi­culty set­tling into New Zealand life. Out­side the busi­ness, Martin ran a craft brew­ery for some time.

How­ever, he ad­mits there was some dis­rup­tion in the first few months, both in terms of adapt­ing to a new cul­ture and his new agency adapt­ing to a cre­atively-fo­cused CEO.

Com­pared to the pre­vi­ous in­cum­bent, van den Hurk, who re­tired in 2017, Martin says he has been more in­volved in the day to day busi­ness. And this stems from his be­lief that it’s crit­i­cal the leader of an agency is in­volved in the prod­uct and stands by it.

Now, hav­ing set­tled in, he says he and the agency have a very uni­fied vi­sion and fo­cus on driv­ing the work and its clients’ busi­nesses to ever greater heights.

“I have had a num­ber of clients state how much they ap­pre­ci­ate the CEO be­ing directly in­volved in their busi­nesses, and that it is un­usual for an agency of our scale.”

He adds he’s been very for­tu­nate to have a strong and ex­pe­ri­enced man­age­ment team, which has been ex­traor­di­nar­ily help­ful in help­ing him bed in.

“I couldn’t have a bet­ter right hand woman than our COO Niki Pet­tifer, she is ut­terly in­trin­sic to my own and the agency’s suc­cess. I, in turn, was very keen to un­leash the sheer fire power of this team, by giv­ing them a clar­ity of role and am­bi­tion.”

De­spite FCB’S long-run­ning slo­gan of ‘The Change Agency’, Martin is quick to em­pha­sise that he did not join to change ev­ery­thing.

“It’s to take some­thing that works re­ally well and work with the team to tweak it and make it work even bet­ter.”

It’s an idea that’s re­ver­ber­at­ing across the in­dus­try on both client and agency side as the frac­tur­ing me­dia land­scape and ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy have opened up op­por­tu­nity for all to re­con­sider their of­fer­ing.

One of those op­por­tu­ni­ties has been for spe­cial­ists to make them­selves known to clients that have opted to work with agency part­ners on a project-by-project ba­sis. While there will likely al­ways be clients that re­quire big, gen­er­al­ist agen­cies to take care of their big, gen­eral de­mands, more se­nior mar­keters are in­di­cat­ing the im­por­tance for clients to se­cure spe­cial­ist part­ners that are suited to spe­cific roles or, in­creas­ingly, spe­cific projects.

When asked for his thoughts on full-ser­vice agen­cies ver­sus the spe­cial­ists, Martin be­lieves there is al­ways go­ing to be a place for spe­cial­ist agen­cies, con­sid­er­ing their abil­ity to laser in on an area.

How­ever, look­ing at full-ser­vice agen­cies, he sees value in hav­ing all the spe­cial­ists un­der one roof, sit­ting around one ta­ble look­ing at a client prob­lem to­gether.

“Us­ing 10 dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ist agen­cies is in­cred­i­bly in­ef­fi­cient, it’s very ex­pen­sive in terms of time and money but also, they just end up com­pet­ing with each other and eat­ing each other’s lunch.”

The same prob­lem can be seen in some larger agen­cies that run mul­ti­ple P&LS. This can make the di­ver­sion of rev­enue across dif­fer­ent parts of the agency more of a fo­cus than the client prob­lem and Martin sees agen­cies suf­fer as a re­sult.

He says one P&L makes for a uni­fied, fo­cused agency and with its spe­cial­ist staff work­ing to­gether to­wards one out­come, Martin says its am­bi­tion is to out-spe­cialise the spe­cial­ists.

“We con­stantly eval­u­ate our of­fer­ing against the best spe­cial­ist agen­cies in mar­ket and make sure we can beat it.”

When asked about financials to back up the agency’s mo­men­tum, Martin didn’t share any in­for­ma­tion and in­stead used the agency’s nine pitch wins and five agency of the year awards in 2017 to show it’s onto some­thing (while it’s well be­fore his time, the lat­est pub­licly avail­able Com­pa­nies Of­fice fig­ures show that FCB NZ in­creased its rev­enue from $37.5 mil­lion in FY2014 to $42.6 mil­lion in FY2016).

In­cluded in those pitch wins are the cre­ative ac­counts of Audi, Keep New Zealand Beau­ti­ful, Com­fort Group and Farm­ers; and the me­dia ac­counts of Tor­pedo7, Lego, Stan­ley Black and Decker and Spo­tify.

Mean­while, the agency of the year wins in­clude Me­dia Agency of the Year at The Bea­cons; Most Ef­fec­tive Agency of the Year at The Effies; New Zealand Me­dia Agency of the Year (gold) at Cam­paign; Aus­tralia/new Zealand So­cial Me­dia Agency of the Year (bronze) at Cam­paign; and the Grand Prix at the New Zealand Direct Mar­ket­ing Awards.

Sec­tor spread

De­spite hav­ing one P&L, FCB is part of In­ter­pub­lic Group, a hold­ing com­pany with three global net­works: Mccann World­group, Lowe and Part­ners and FCB.

Hold­ing com­pa­nies were in­tro­duced as a so­lu­tion to the idea that only one client in a sec­tor could work with an agency to avoid con­flicts of in­ter­est. Hav­ing mul­ti­ple agen­cies fun­nelling into one hold­ing com­pany, the hold­ing com­pany can reap the ben­e­fits of mul­ti­ple clients within a sec­tor.

But it’s an age­ing idea, and Martin points to pro­fes­sional firms like EY and KPMG – which are in­creas­ingly of­fer­ing ser­vices in cre­ative and me­dia – that do not put them­selves in a po­si­tion where they are un­able to ser­vice more than one client in a cat­e­gory. He says it’s un­re­al­is­tic

in the long-run to ex­pect agen­cies to stick with just the one client per sec­tor.

He ex­plains that as agen­cies be­comes more con­sul­ta­tive and fo­cus on mov­ing to the higher ground where they can add in­tel­lec­tual and cre­ative fire power to clients on a project ba­sis, it is likely that an agency will work with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent clients in a sec­tor.

“Gen­er­ally, I think that as clients in­creas­ingly shop around be­tween agen­cies, and have mul­ti­ple agency part­ners, they need to be re­al­is­tic.”

While he be­lieves it will work, Martin says that it won’t work for agen­cies if they can’t es­tab­lish trust with clients by keep­ing each client’s busi­ness sep­a­rate. It’s here Martin points out how crit­i­cal it is that the same staff don’t work across com­pet­ing pieces of work.

And with FCB’S united front mean­ing all se­nior staff come to­gether to solve a client’s prob­lem, it’s found a so­lu­tion to po­ten­tial con­flicts in Jolt, which Martin refers to as a con­flicts shop.

Jolt was cre­ated to ser­vice the Audi ac­count, which the agency picked up to­wards the end of 2017 (Martin was heav­ily in­volved the whole way through). With the Volk­swa­gen ac­count al­ready on the agency’s books, Jolt cre­ates a sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the two car brands and at the time of the Audi win, VW gen­eral man­ag­ing direc­tor Tom Rud­den­klau told Stop­press he was con­fi­dent Jolt would be able to work on Audi while the as­signed FCB team con­tin­ues to look after VW.

And as well as cre­at­ing the Chi­nese Wall be­tween com­pet­ing clients, Martin adds Jolt has value in be­ing a place of in­no­va­tion and place to test new op­er­at­ing mod­els.

A long-term vi­sion

Un­der the rule of Craw­ford, who was CEO for over 10 years be­fore be­ing ap­pointed to a global role, FCB moved from a mid-tier agency to one of the best in the coun­try – and, on its day, the world. The suc­cess of the agency of­ten saw it held up as an ex­am­ple for the rest of the FCB net­work and Craw­ford’s ex­pe­ri­ence on the client side and his un­der­stated na­ture was seen as a good thing in an in­dus­try renowned for big char­ac­ters, a fo­cus on cre­ativ­ity and a de­gree of loose­ness. Van den Hurk was also ex­tremely ca­pa­ble, but even more un­der­stated than Craw­ford. So Martin, by con­trast, is some­thing of a whirl­whind, ac­cord­ing to chief strate­gist David Thoma­son, who has been with the agency for over ten years.

“The sound-bite for Bryan Craw­ford was: ‘He’s not an ad­man, he’s a busi­ness guy’. That helped po­si­tion FCB per­fectly for the long-term. With­out de­tract­ing from his con­sid­er­able strate­gic nous, I’d say Dan Martin is the ‘The En­ergy Guy’. And he is an ad­man. He’s all about ideas – in the broad­est sense – and push­ing things fur­ther. I think that’s per­fect for FCB’S next phase.”

Thoma­son says it would be easy as an agency that’s grown to FCB’S size, with large clients in most cat­e­gories, to get com­pla­cent. But, un­der Martin, it’ll con­tinue to avoid that hap­pen­ing.

“He doesn’t know how to slow down. Dan’s quick, a good lis­tener, and ob­sessed with cre­ative qual­ity. He’s also happy to rat­tle cages. After a very short time, the re­sults jus­tify it. It’s early days but we’ve al­ready had a run of sig­nif­i­cant new busi­ness wins, launched out­stand­ing cam­paigns, and re­shaped some key as­pects of our of­fer­ing.

“FCB’S en­joyed a strong, sta­ble cul­ture, with un­usual longevity of lead­er­ship. Per­haps iron­i­cally for the Change Agency, any change at that level is quite a big deal. After the ini­tial cul­tural shock of hav­ing a young and im­pa­tient (pos­si­bly my age show­ing) English CEO ques­tion ev­ery­thing, I’m a big fan.”

Hom­ing in on where Martin wants to FCB go in the fu­ture, he puts an em­pha­sis on long-term work – some­thing al­ready seen with the lat­est cam­paign for The Health Pro­mo­tion Agency.

The cam­paign tack­les binge-drink­ing, by re­mind­ing young adults of the harm it can cause to their mem­ory. How­ever, en­sur­ing it keeps away from a fin­ger­wag­ging tone, the story is pre­sented in a twisted, sur­real, crazy world, or ‘the De­part­ment of Lost Nights’.

Martin says the plat­form is set to stick around for years to come, with more cre­ative to come from the idea.

Thoma­son has been very vo­cal about the need for the agency – and the in­dus­try as a whole – to fo­cus more on long-term brand build­ing rather than just short­term ac­ti­va­tions. Ef­fec­tive­ness ex­pert Peter Field says the magic ra­tio is 60/40 long-term vs. short-term, so there will al­ways be a mix of ac­tiv­ity re­quired. But,

re­flect­ing on the Effies last year, FCB’S haul was an in­di­ca­tion of the suc­cess of both its brand plat­forms and its stunts, win­ning 12 of the 18 golds handed out on the night for work in­clud­ing ‘En­ergy Made Wonderful’ by Mer­cury, ‘Go Balls Out’ for Tes­tic­u­lar Cancer New Zealand and ‘Es­cape My House’ for Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand.

Chris Baker, founder at Ba­con Strat­egy and Re­search Lon­don and 2018’s in­ter­na­tional judge for the Effie Awards, pre­sented a work­shop and key­note in New Zealand and short­ter­mism was the is­sue he took on.

“Long-term isn’t just run­ning the same ads or do­ing the same thing con­tin­u­ously, it is driven by a broader brand pur­pose and some­times a broader com­mu­ni­ca­tions idea or plat­form,” he told Stop­press. “You can be do­ing new stuff but very much al­ways on the same jour­ney.”

Baker ex­plained that in the dig­i­tal world, the temp­ta­tion to steer clear of work that re­quires long-term in­vest­ment is even greater as an in­stant re­sponse to a cam­paign is eas­ier than ever be­fore.

Reach and likes on so­cial me­dia can come at lit­tle cost to a busi­ness but Baker says it’s only worth­while if that reach and those likes trans­late into a be­havioural change in con­sumers and that be­havioural change trans­lates into rev­enue.

“The real ques­tion you should al­ways be ask­ing is how does this turn into money?” Baker says, and the an­swer is al­ways more ro­bust than hav­ing a gen­eral sense it will do well be­cause a lot of peo­ple have seen the cam­paign.

And while FCB is pro­mot­ing its move away from short-term think­ing, it’s just as im­por­tant clients are on that jour­ney too.

Martin com­pares a client/agency part­ner­ship to a mar­riage, say­ing both par­ties need to make sure their val­ues align from the start and for FCB, it’s an idea that con­trib­utes to the fact it only takes up one-in-five of­fers to pitch.

“We want to be able to make a big vis­i­ble dif­fer­ence to the client,” he says. “We don’t want to take on client busi­ness and do the same old same old, we want to be able to push them on.”

Mer­cury’s ‘En­ergy Made Wonderful’ cam­paign, which fo­cused on elec­tric bikes, is a great ex­am­ple of this brand pur­pose in ac­tion – and the just­launched up­date to that cam­paign, which re­built a clas­sic car with an elec­tric en­gine, shows the im­por­tance of ap­peal­ing to con­sumers through emo­tions, rather than ra­tio­nal in­for­ma­tion. Martin also refers to the ‘De­part­ment of Lost Nights’ cam­paign, say­ing the agency was only able to do it be­cause it’s al­ready spent years with the client es­tab­lish­ing a solid base. If a client doesn’t ex­tend their gaze into the long-term, FCB won’t pitch.

A frus­tra­tion in mar­keters’ in­abil­ity or un­will­ing­ness to play the long game was ex­pressed when NZ Mar­ket­ing and TRA asked 40 agency ex­ec­u­tives to as­sess mar­keters.

Their re­sponses in­cluded: “Short­term think­ing is a prob­lem. Mar­keters aren’t will­ing to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo when it’s ob­vi­ously faulted think­ing” and “Mar­keters of­ten have no vi­sion for the brands they work on”.

These rea­sons, as well as cost, were cited when 95 per­cent of agency heads ex­plained why they have been known to turn down in­vi­ta­tions to pitch.

And the cost fac­tor is no sur­prise when con­sid­er­ing that ANZA chief ex­ec­u­tive Lind­say Mouat be­lieves that among clients, there is lit­tle aware­ness of the direct and in­di­rect costs gen­er­ated by pitches.

“A ma­jor pitch may gen­er­ate costs of $500k per agency in hard costs and head hours. Mul­ti­ply this by say four to five agen­cies and we have a very ex­pen­sive process,” he told Stop­press in 2017.

The in­ter­view with Mouat came in the wake of the As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) and the Com­mer­cial Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Coun­cil re­leas­ing a Code of Best Prac­tice, a guide de­signed to ease the process in the New Zealand mar­ket.

Within it, the code points out that some clients are pay­ing agen­cies to par­tic­i­pate in a com­pet­i­tive re­view process, usu­ally a nom­i­nal amount. This helps to cover some of the agen­cies hard costs of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the process and does not trans­fer own­er­ship of any ideas pre­sented by the agency to the client. A rare few clients sim­ply find an agency they like and go with them, rather than test the mar­ket.

Martin agrees clients should pay for agen­cies to pitch and from the agency’s per­spec­tive, he sees it as im­por­tant to pitch with the team that will ac­tu­ally be work­ing on the client’s busi­ness.

Both, he says make for an ef­fi­cient, ef­fec­tive and plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

Nav­i­gat­ing a new world

An ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for clients would be wel­comed by clients who are fac­ing an in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing mar­ket.

Martin sees the fo­cus on ROI be­ing greater and this, com­bined with a more com­plex mar­ket, makes for a greater de­mand for agency part­ners who can take some of the prob­lems off their shoul­ders, sim­plify things for them and de­liver across the board.

They are also par­tic­u­larly valu­able when sit­ting along­side clients’ in-house stu­dios. And while they could be con­sid­ered a threat to agen­cies, Martin sees value in their abil­ity to pro­duce “busi­ness as usual work”. How­ever, he points out a danger in clients turn­ing it into “hy­gien­e­fac­tor work” that sat­is­fies the studio’s in­ter­nal au­di­ences, rather than work that’s in­ter­est­ing and cut­ting through.

He says once they’re built and paid for, in-house stu­dios need to be used and if the work is in­ef­fec­tive, it’s not pay­ing for it­self.

“There is no point in cre­at­ing lots of work that does not cut through and I worry a lot of these in-house stu­dios are do­ing that be­cause peo­ple who work in a mar­ket­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion quickly be­come at­tuned to the path of least re­sis­tance cre­atively,” he says.

“It’s eas­ier to carry on pro­duc­ing the same stuff that you know is go­ing to be ap­proved and that means clients stop push­ing.”

Farm­ers is one of those brands that has an in­ter­nal suite of cre­atives work­ing on the brand, and they do so to pro­duce pho­tog­ra­phy for the web­sites as well as dig­i­tal dis­play, its in-sea­son and new sea­son TV ads, as well as ads for hol­i­day sales, like Wai­tangi Day and Easter.

For­mer head of mar­ket­ing for the com­pany Dean Cook has now joined The Ware­house Group and upon his de­par­ture, told Stop­press in-house agen­cies had a risk of sec­ond-guess­ing how far they can push an idea due to be­ing hemmed in by the likes of the mer­chan­dis­ing and mar­ket­ing teams.

“When you want to think big and out­side of the box, you need some­one to take the blin­ders off and you can only re­ally get that from go­ing out.”

For Farm­ers, it asked FCB to take the blin­ders off and it launched a new, emo­tional brand cam­paign for Christ­mas.

Called ‘Se­cret Santa’, the cam­paign

told the tale of a grumpy man who is ac­tu­ally kind, the frustrated mum who tries her best for her fam­ily and the naughty kid who ends up giv­ing the neigh­bour cook­ies and milk. It’s an ad that brings a tear to the eye and the emo­tional strat­egy was one that came from the mar­ket­ing team.

How­ever, be­ing the first time in 100 years the re­tailer had in­vested in this type of brand work, it turned to FCB to ex­e­cute it.

It’s an ex­am­ple that re­it­er­ates the im­por­tance of agency part­ners and Martin re­calls a con­ver­sa­tion he had with Cook about it.

“I turned around and said ‘you have to have a client who is go­ing to give you a good brief and they are go­ing to trust you’. And [Dean] turned around and said: ‘Why wouldn’t I let you get on with what you need to get on with – you are the sto­ry­tellers and that’s what I’m buy­ing you for’.”

Martin says it finds high-value work in be­ing able to of­fer the strate­gic ad­vice that en­ables clients to make big leaps and “any agency that’s not in that space prob­a­bly should be wor­ried”.

He sees the alchemy of bring­ing to­gether in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics and mind­sets in an agency cre­ates a real buzz and a sense of tan­gi­ble ex­cite­ment, par­tic­u­larly when things are go­ing well, and it’s not some­thing he’s ex­pe­ri­enced in non-agency en­vi­ron­ments dur­ing his 20 years in the in­dus­try.

“I hate to say it but I think the re­al­ity is, you will not get the best cre­atives and strate­gists go­ing to work client side be­cause cre­ative peo­ple want to work in a par­tic­u­lar cul­ture and they’re not go­ing to find that cul­ture out­side of agen­cies.”

New di­vi­sions

While some clients have taken cre­ative fa­cil­i­ties in-house to cre­ate cheap and fast, FCB has its own so­lu­tion in The Hive, a con­tent ser­vice team that al­lows clients to de­velop, pro­duce and de­liver au­dio vis­ual and static con­tent fast and cost-ef­fec­tively.

The team then dis­trib­utes the con­tent across dig­i­tal chan­nels and can man­age paid me­dia spend to sup­port a client’s ob­jec­tives.

Last year that was put to use in the re­brand­ing of Greggs. While Marx De­sign worked on the pack­ag­ing, FCB was bought in to bring at­ten­tion to the new de­sign and The Hive proved to be the right cre­ative as­sets for the FMCG brand that has to in­cor­po­rate the re­tail chan­nel into its bud­get.

In the same way The Hive is an abil­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity that sits within the FCB brand, so is the new FCB Open.

The of­fer­ing is a re­sponse to the in­creas­ing di­ver­sity of New Zealan­ders and the sig­nif­i­cant growth op­por­tu­nity this presents to the agency’s clients and New Zealand busi­ness in gen­eral.

Martin says the agency’s un­der­stand­ing of New Zealand’s cul­tural codes and the new in­sights from FCB Open will keep the agency and clients rel­e­vant and up to date with what makes Ki­wis new and old tick.

It helps clients to iden­tify spe­cific deep in­sights, de­velop tai­lored me­dia and cre­ative strat­egy and guide ex­e­cu­tion through the agency’s in­te­grated model to en­sure that their clients are suc­ceed­ing with New Auck­lan­ders for ex­am­ple.

“The point of it is not ‘let’s take the ex­ist­ing cam­paign and trans­late it’,” ex­plains Martin. “It’s about truly un­der­stand­ing those au­di­ences and con­nect­ing with them.”

As well as the di­ver­sity of the en­tire coun­try, Martin also iden­ti­fies Auck­land as an area where there has been a quan­tum shift in de­mo­graphic and the Chi­nese, In­dian and Korean mar­kets are among those the agency will be re­search­ing.

In say­ing this, he points out that he doesn’t want FCB Open to cre­ate a sep­a­ra­tion be­tween new and pre-ex­ist­ing Ki­wis. In­stead, FCB wants to find the com­mon­al­i­ties and bring them to­gether.

Lead­ing FCB Open is Vera Dong, who was pre­vi­ously plan­ning part­ner at Ogilvy China and is now lead strate­gist along­side Mur­ray Streets, gen­eral man­ager of in­no­va­tion and strat­egy.

Dong is one of a num­ber of lead­ers to have joined the agency, or been pro­moted, since Martin’s ar­rival in­clud­ing Storm Day (ex As­sign­ment Group) as a group busi­ness direc­tor, Kathryn Robin­son (also ex As­sign­ment Group) as a plan­ning part­ner, El­iz­a­beth Beatty (for­mer head of Ogilvy­one Sydney) as gen­eral man­ager on Voda­fone, Chris­tine Ab­bott (from BTL) as the shop­per mar­ket­ing direc­tor, and Jane Ward­law who after 17 years with the agency has been pro­moted to head of ac­count man­age­ment.

Fleur Head and Kam­ran Kazal­bash, who were man­ag­ing direc­tor and gen­eral man­ager of re­tail re­spec­tively, both de­parted last year, but Martin says they had re­signed be­fore he ar­rived.

Also set to depart is Ru­fus Chuter, man­ag­ing direc­tor of FCB Me­dia, who will be leav­ing the agency in May after hand­ing in his res­ig­na­tion ear­lier this year. A change in CEO is of­ten a time for staff to con­sider their own new move, and when re­spond­ing to sug­ges­tions that his de­par­ture was the re­sult of the new CEO, Chuter told Stop­press: "A change in lead­er­ship last year may have been one of the cat­a­lysts for me to con­sider what my fu­ture looks like – as is nat­u­ral with the ar­rival of any new leader, with their own vi­sion and val­ues – but it’s cer­tainly not the rea­son for my de­ci­sion. The re­al­ity is that after three years run­ning the team, and six years at the agency, I was al­ways go­ing to have to con­sider whether my next step was with FCB or whether I needed to find a new moun­tain to climb. That’s a con­ver­sa­tion that pre-dates Dan’s ar­rival. I’ve got the high­est re­gard for the agency, its cul­ture and wish the lead­er­ship team there ev­ery suc­cess."

The head­count of the agency is now 215 com­pared to the 213 when Martin started. He says it’s not chas­ing growth for growth’s sake, rather it’s fo­cused on im­prov­ing its tal­ent and skills in all de­part­ments and grow­ing or­gan­i­cally with clients.

Talk it up

While the agency is look­ing closely at the “new New Zealan­der” with FCB Open, speak­ing about his own ex­pe­ri­ence in com­par­ing New Zealan­ders to the rest of the world, he says we are “quite mod­est”.

In fact, it’s one area of im­prove­ment Martin did iden­tify in­side FCB when he joined the agency.

While he says the agency was pro­duc­ing strong cre­ative prod­uct with top flight cre­atives such as Tony Clewett and James Mok, and ex­cep­tional suits such as Toby Sell­ers and Ward­law, there’s need for a con­fi­dence boost.

“Some­times our suits and cre­atives at more ju­nior lev­els didn’t be­lieve enough in their tal­ent, per­haps be­cause they are a mod­est bunch. To that end our fo­cus is on an in­creased steely de­ter­mi­na­tion

as in­di­vid­u­als to help our clients cre­ate work that will see them win in mar­ket.”

He says it felt like an ap­pro­pri­ate char­ac­ter trait for an agency in which 80 per­cent of its clients are New Zealand-owned.

“We wanted to bal­ance an in­creased drive with our ‘No Wankers phi­los­o­phy’.”

That line, Martin says, comes from be­yond the agency as he sees the Kiwi modus operandi of work­ing as a team with no-one get­ting too big for their boots.

It’s a Kiwi char­ac­ter­is­tic he ap­pre­ci­ates but, at the same time, he would like to see good-work shouted about a bit more.

“I don’t want to get rid of mod­esty but I want us to go out and be­lieve we can all be world beat­ers.”

And that’s not just when it comes to ad­ver­tis­ing. Martin looks at the Amer­ica’s Cup and the in­ge­nu­ity that was re­quired to put sailors on bikes to give more sta­bil­ity dur­ing foil­ing, as well as the make-up of the coun­try and how it’s built on im­mi­gra­tion.

“So­cially New Zealand is far ahead of the rest of the world and the in­ven­tive­ness and in­ge­nu­ity and en­ergy of it makes it a coun­try that’s go­ing to carry on re­ally suc­ceed­ing.”

Cre­ativ­ity loves con­straints

Fur­ther ce­ment­ing his adopted Kiwi sta­tus, Martin em­braces the idea of Num­ber 8 wire when ex­plain­ing that scarcity drives cre­ativ­ity and that’s why New Zealand’s data so­lu­tions for ad­ver­tis­ing are world-class, giv­ing the ex­am­ple of FCB New Zealand’s so­lu­tions be­ing used by the FCB global net­work.

He says for too long, data has been owned by tech com­pa­nies and what the mar­ket is now see­ing is cre­ative com­pa­nies take own­er­ship of the tech­nol­ogy and putting it to use in cre­ative ways for clients.

“The is­sue un­til very re­cently is tech com­pa­nies want to keep all the in­for­ma­tion for them­selves be­cause they know cre­ative com­pa­nies can make big­ger leaps with it some­times,” he says.

And those leaps are seen in the mar­riage of cre­ativ­ity and data to drive cam­paigns. Be­cause the agen­cies are no longer hostage to the data – they con­trol it.

“When you have a bunch of re­ally cre­ative plan­ners and then you have cre­ative data peo­ple sit­ting in the mid­dle of them, it’s bloody pow­er­ful.”

Help­ing to do that are new spe­cial­ists from the West Coast of the US, the heart of tech coun­try, and it is also de­vel­op­ing its own IP and tech that al­lows the agency to turn data­bases in busi­ness­win­ning ad­van­tages.

An ex­am­ple of the type of work it can pro­duce is the ‘Vir­tual Coast­guard’ cam­paign for Mar­itime New Zealand, cre­ated to re­mind boat own­ers to wear their life jack­ets when out on the wa­ter.

FCB part­nered with Google and Face­book to cre­ate a geo-fence sur­round­ing the New Zealand coast­line and when a boat user crossed it, they would be pro­vided with a be­havioural prompt to their phones.

It was de­liv­ered via Face­book, In­sta­gram, Google and thou­sands of other mo­bile sites and con­trib­uted to record lev­els of life jacket wear­ing and a 75 per­cent re­duc­tion in boat­ing fa­tal­i­ties.

“I can now see we are gen­uinely har­ness­ing tech and data to fire cre­ativ­ity and that’s tremen­dously ex­cit­ing,” says Martin.

Ge­nius from the edge

While FCB’S dig­i­tal team has been given an in­jec­tion of in­ter­na­tional tal­ent with the US spe­cial­ists join­ing, that’s not to say New Zealand has no tal­ent here.

Re­spond­ing to the agency’s de­ci­sion to hire from off­shore rather than em­ploy­ing a lo­cal, Martin says there’s a lot of tal­ent on the ground here but he wants to en­cour­age cross-pol­li­na­tion.

The idea be­ing that when lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tal­ent is brought to­gether, they share their skills and ideas al­low­ing ev­ery­one to broaden their hori­zons.

“If oc­ca­sion­ally we find gaps in tal­ent, we will source the best global tal­ent but then use that global tal­ent to train and in­spire Ki­wis in those skills.”

One way Martin sees that in­ter­na­tional tal­ent be­ing drawn down into New Zealand is the over­all cal­i­bre of the agen­cies here and he is pas­sion­ate about see­ing lo­cal agen­cies con­tinue to per­form bril­liantly on the global stage.

“I’d love a sit­u­a­tion where FCB and all the other agen­cies here knock much big­ger mar­kets out of the way in terms of global recog­ni­tion for our cre­ativ­ity,” he says. “The more we can do great work to­gether, the more tal­ent we will at­tract down here.”

Of course, that is al­ready hap­pen­ing. In 2010, New Zealand had the most Li­ons per capita of any coun­try in the world, with one Lion per 155,989 peo­ple; in 2016, New Zealand fin­ished in sixth po­si­tion over­all at Cannes and dropped down to a still very re­spectable 13th In 2017.

But Martin says we can get bet­ter when it comes to pro­mot­ing it and this is less likely to hap­pen if there are shoot­ing matches be­tween lo­cal agen­cies.

And de­spite want­ing to see New Zealand agen­cies on a global stage, he warns against fall­ing for the temp­ta­tion of en­ter­ing all the awards shows across the world.

“That’s not a fo­cus to us be­cause we don’t think that’s im­por­tant to our clients,” he ex­plains, in­stead nam­ing the Effies, TVNZ-NZ Mar­ket­ing Awards, the Bea­cons as his pri­or­ity be­cause win­ning those recog­nises the client’s great work and the trust they put in their agency.

Be­yond those, he also sees value in Axis as a recog­ni­tion of the great work of cre­ative tal­ent, and in Cannes as a plat­form for both the agency and client to have in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion. But again, this recog­ni­tion should be for work that’s cre­ated a gen­uine dif­fer­ence as well as be­ing cre­atively bril­liant.

“The real awards to me are the ones you’ve re­ally had to put in the hard yards and go the ex­tra mile. Putting to­gether a bunch of scam ads for Cannes or D&AD is point­less in my view. The sooner the in­dus­try stops do­ing that the bet­ter, be­cause our clients will take the in­dus­try more se­ri­ously.”

It’s hard to be­lieve Martin’s body lan­guage would ever be­tray him as look­ing un­com­fort­able. Now, he is ex­ud­ing con­fi­dence. Amaz­ing what a good set of cuff­links can do.

So­cially New Zealand is far ahead of the rest of the world and the in­ven­tive­ness and in­ge­nu­ity and en­ergy of it makes it a coun­try that’s go­ing to carry on re­ally suc­ceed­ing.

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