Deloitte ransacks McCann Melbourne leadership to bolster creative

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 28 September 2017
Adrian Mills

McCann Melbourne's senior leadership team have been scooped up by Deloitte Digital as it builds out its brand and creative offering.

Managing director Adrian Mills, ECD Matt Lawson and head of strategy and media David Phillips, will all exit the agency to join the consultancy.

It represents a different approach from a consulting firm to airlift out a chunk of talent, rather than investing in acquiring an agency. The move follows Accenture's acquisition of The Monkeys and The Works selling to tech consultancy RXP.

Mills and Phillips will join Deloitte as business partners to lead Deloitte Digital’s brand creative and media offering.

The way Deloitte works is by operating practices which operate within the organisation as individual business. The partners are responsible for the P&L and performance of that practice and invest a stake in the sbuiness, much like senior lawyers in law firms.

Lawson will join the Deloitte team as principal and chief creative officer. He is ranked as the top copywriter in the world by the 2017 Global Big Won and also features in the inaugural AdNews Creativity List in July. 

At the time, he told AdNews that creativity is “innovative problem solving” and “our only chance of survival”. Mills described him as an inventor, rather than a creative.

See: Network Ten chief brand lead exits for CMO role at Deloitte

The three have driven the growth of the Melbourne agency over the past two years, and Mills led the charge to bring media into the creative agency, and Justine has been part of that division for the last 14 months.

McCann was the second most awarded Australian agency in Cannes this year, taking home 10 gongs. Between the three of them, they hold 82 Cannes Lions altogether.

Justine Mills, current media specialist at McCann, is also joining Deloitte as director of media. Her role will be to advise clients looking to bring media in-house.

Deloitte Digital lead partner Steve Hallam says: “We are always on the lookout for people who drive disruption. So to have the hottest creative industry talent in Australia choosing to be part of our business is genuinely exciting.

“We are not seeing this as another advertising offering, but an integral part of the Deloitte team; integrating creative, media and brand strategy into all our other service offerings such as customer experience, experience design, storytelling, AR, VR and marketing optimisation.

“The strength of this team is their ability to clearly articulate and build the right idea to help businesses understand where they’re moving to rather than where they’re moving from. In an era of rapid industry disruption, that distinction is critical for business success.”

See: Ex-Telstra marketer Andy Bateman joins Deloitte

McCann CEO Ben Lilley confirmed the exits and while he did not reveal any plans the agency has in place to plug the significant wholes at the top of the agency, McCann tells AdNews that there are people in place to take the roles. They are due to be announced shortly.

“I’ve worked with Adrian for six years now and have seen him grow from a talented group account director to an accomplished managing director in that time. David, Matt and Justine have also achieved great things with us at McCann and I thank them all for their significant contribution to our business in this time. I look forward to continuing to watch them grow and prosper. They have great futures ahead of them and leave with our very best wishes," Lilley says.

Deloitte says that their expertise complements Deloitte’s “deep industry knowledge, business transformation, organisational change and versatile technology experience”.

A word from Adrian Mills:

“Clients shouldn’t have to choose between a creative agency and an accountable agency. Deloitte offers clients the best in strategy, data, enterprise and digital skills informing a world’s best practice creative product. As we drive towards a goal of turning marketing into a profit centre, the opportunity for clients is completely transformative.”

A word from David Phillips:

“Marketing has changed. There are those that are falling behind, and those that are trying to catch up. For Australia’s leading organisations to survive, the best creative talent need to work with the best strategists, the best data scientists and the best digital technicians and they can only get that at Deloitte.”

A word from Matt Lawson:

“It is inspiring to see a truly intelligent business putting creativity at the heart of their offering. These days, the most effective creative solution is rarely just advertising and we are fortunate to be working with Deloitte’s AR, VR, innovation, interiors, design and research teams to leverage the incredible opportunity in this firm.”

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