Young Guns: Blue 449 strategist Josef Charlesworth

By AdNews | 8 December 2017
Josef Charlesworth, Blue 449.

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.


How long have you been in the industry?

Just over five years.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

A few months into my new role, but I have been at Blue 449 for 3.5 years.

What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig?

I was in the performance team at Blue 449, running biddable media for clients before moving over to business strategy. I saw an opportunity to do more for our clients, going beyond media strategy and looking at long term business strategy, all starting with clients 1st party data. The leadership team at Blue 449 helped me build the role, and have been incredibly supportive since the switch from performance.

Define your job in one word:


What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?

Honestly, I fell into a performance role after finishing university, so didn’t have any expectations of what it would be like working in media. I lucked out though, with the media landscape changing so much every year there is no risk of me getting bored.

How does the reality match up?

Going in with no major expectations of media, it has been a pleasant surprise, but I would be lying if I said it has all been plain sailing.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?

At Blue 449 we are about better, not different. The right solution to a client’s business problem does not have to be overly complex, it just needs to work…and success or failure measured correctly. My role is about unpacking our client’s business challenges, understanding where we are now versus where we want to be in the long term, and building a framework of how we get there – media forms a part of this process, but it is much more than this.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

The job is never done, and there is no set formula for winning. You have to look at every challenge as its own beast, and that definitely helps me get me out of bed every day.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

Good things take time to build. It’s important to celebrate short-term success, but true effectiveness is defined by consistency.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?

I would switch back to performance. The work the team is doing is awesome, and they are a great group of people.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?

There has been a recalibration in how we look at data. There’s so much out there to analyse, but there has been a shift in focus to look at 1st party data as a priority. There’s now more rigour around the collection and quality of 1st party data, so we can build more meaningful insights.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

There is a theme emerging here…short termism. Rarely do we take a view outside of this financial year or the next, and this needs to change.

Who's your right-hand person/who guides you day to day?

Zara Cobb, our head of strategy and planning. She is very inspiring as a leader, and is so comfortable in her own style. Zara will always give me the feedback I need to hear…even if I don’t want to hear it!

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

Duncan Parfitt, who just stepped into the role of Managing Director. Duncan hired me from the UK, and has been an incredible mentor throughout my time at the agency. It will be a while longer before I get the chance to dethrone him!

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years and how do you plan on getting there?

The role of a business strategist is a new one. The next 3 years will be about refining process, developing case studies, and defining what is required for the role when looking to grow the team. The 3 year ambition is to have a small army of business strategists!

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

Incrementality of media. Sure it’s hard to separate between correlation and causation, but it needs to be done.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

My mum. What she’s done in her life still amazes me.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

I can’t stand parsnips. That’s probably the only…

Favourite advert is:

This beauty for Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut

I had a starring role…

What’s your personal motto?

“Kill all of my demons and my angels might die too” – it is an adaption of a Tennessee Williams quote. You’ve got to accept what you are, and feel comfortable in your own skin.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc because:

My old agency in the UK had the right role at the right time.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

An anthropologist.

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