Clemenger BBDO: The best of the best

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | Sponsored
Meet Graham

In this series, we are celebrating some of the agencies that won big at the AdNews Agency of the Year Awards this year.

One constant of Clemenger BBDO’s storied 70-year history has been success. That reached yet another high point with eight wins at the 2016 AdNews Agency of the Year Awards, including the Grand Prix for Melbourne. But the last thing you’ll find the network doing is resting on their laurels. Instead they are striving to outdo themselves.

‘The Work The Work The Work’ is the mantra that steers Clemenger BBDO and sees data-led creativity, like Snicker’s Hungerithm, and emotional brand platforms, like MasterFoods’ Make Dinner Time Matter, attract global recognition.

“We try not to create pollution in advertising,” Clemenger BBDO Melbourne creative chairman James McGrath said. “We also focus solely on making brands meaningful to people and connecting with humanity in ways you wouldn’t typically associate with advertising.”

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne’s recent work with Airbnb encapsulates its drive to make brands have purpose. The campaign called for marriage equality by providing Australians with the symbol of marriage itself – a ring.

It’s this work that McGrath said the agency is most proud of and shows that advertising is not losing its power: “With clients like NAB and TAC’s Meet Graham; money and road safety dig up emotions. Add in Airbnb’s stance on same-sex issues, it’s not for the faint hearted and its quite hard for a brand to intersect.

“It requires our unique creative understanding to know what will appeal to audiences in a respectful way and connect with them in that moment of truth.”

Moving from an agency with distinct divisions and their own financial accountabilities to an entity with one P&L over the past two years has marked Clemenger BBDO Melbourne’s evolution under the guide of CEO Nick Garrett.

“Changing an agency is like gardening. It requires never-ending maintenance,” Garrett said.

“The broadened offer has allowed us to take on more work for our clients when other agencies could have taken it, such as winning Myer’s digital. We’ve attracted and explored creative opportunities that in the past we would have passed on.”

Garrett said winning the Grand Prix AdNews Agency of the Year Award was humbling and a signal that the management team is firing forward, but in his eyes, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne still has a long way to go.

“It’s not a revolution of the agency. It’s an evolution,” Garrett said. “We are the toughest judge on ourselves and we don’t think we are at all finished. We are moving fast but there will be years left of our evolution.”

The high standards Clemenger BBDO Melbourne holds itself to are carried through the network, with Clemenger BBDO Sydney also on a mission to create a new benchmark for itself and the industry.

The agency has recently undergone a huge creative shake-up, with the addition of chief creative officer Ben Coulson, replacing Paul Nagy. MD Emily Perrett believes Coulson will propel the agency in the direction the industry is heading, also marking its shift in creative focus. It is currently on the hunt for a new strategy lead following the departure of Al Crawford.

“Coulson’s arrival is the most significant creative change for the ad agency in a long time,” MD Emily Perrett said. “Sydney is super competitive and in the last four months there has been a lot of pitches and a lot of new agencies popping up.

Clemenger BBDO Sydney is seeing the change happening outside the agency, but there is also a huge amount of change inside,” she said.

With Clemenger BBDO Melbourne taking out the top gong for AdNews Agency of the Year, Perrett said it’s inspiring to see the network succeed but the Sydney agency is gunning for the top gong in 2017.

“The Melbourne office has done some great work in the last year and that’s awesome,” Perrett said.

“We are knuckling down with our new team and we’re seeing some great ideas emerge. It’s exciting. We’ve got some pretty big dreams this year so we are one to watch.”

Want to know more about Clemenger Melbourne? Meet their team here. 

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