AdNews Annual: Trust is love

Westpac head of advertising Andrew Howie
By Westpac head of advertising Andrew Howie | 10 January 2018
Westpac head of advertising Andrew Howie.

This is a free article from The Annual 2017. As part of the Perspectives Series AdNews asked industry leaders from marketing, media, advertising and tech to reflect on trust. You can now read the series online. Every issue of the monthly magazine has exclusive features, profile interviews and content that isn't usually available online. If you don't subscribe, you're missing out. You can download a digital version of AdNews and subscribe to the premium print edition here.

Trust. It takes a lifetime to establish and an instant to lose.

When you think about it, trust or the lack thereof, is the basis for which so many other emotions are built.

It is the first emotion we ever experience as a human. When we arrive on this earth, exposed and vulnerable, it is the first emotion we develop. We instantly trust those who have brought us into the world.

From this foundation, we are able to establish friendships and build the requisite understanding of how to fit into society. It is from this foundation of trust that love is able to develop.

When we start out on our career journeys, we seek out mentoring and guidance from those that we trust. In my first ever agency role I was lucky enough to find a massive legend who offered to steer my early career moves. Gently, she pushed me in the right direction without me ever really knowing it. Fourteen years on and we still talk. I think her advice has only become better with time.

As my career has progressed, I have relied on fewer, better sources of advice. It’s a dangerous world out there, and the higher the tree you sit in, sadly the less people you can trust.

Most recently, it became apparent when I was building a network of partner agencies I could trust. We grew to trust each other quickly. That allowed us to develop work that was interesting and provocative time and time again.

I believed in the intentions of the agencies and they knew I wouldn’t throw them under the bus if things went awry or amiss. What was really amazing was the agencies began to trust each other in the same way. With that kind of partnership, the possibilities are endless.

A key part of professional trust a lot of people don’t consider, is that it's not about blind trust. It is not just a matter of trusting someone to go out and do whatever they want. That’s reckless. It is about working together towards a common outcome. You need mutual accountability.

When you are able to build that kind of relationship with your agency partners you are able to celebrate the wins and console over the losses together. When you can really trust each other, this weird, hard to explain kind of love forms between you all.

It's intangible. I don’t really know how to explain it to those of you who don’t get it. But what I can say is, if you don’t know what it feels like, you might want to find different partners to work with.

Andrew Howie is the head of advertising at Westpac and, until recently, the CMO of Meat and Livestock Australia.

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This is part of the Perspectives Series - Reflections on Trust from The Annual 2017. 

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