Industry Profile: Clemenger BBDO creative director Brendan Willenberg

18 February 2020

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we speak to Clemenger BBDO creative director Brendan Willenberg.

Time at the company:
Eight and a half years.

How would you describe what the company does? 
Commercial creativity in all its weird, wonderful, traditional and buzzwordy guises.

What do you do day-to-day?
I am CD across Mars Food/Pet, V Energy, Tourism Tasmania and a bunch of other stuff. My day is spent making fun stuff that sells stuff.

Define your job in one word:

I got into advertising because:
I was obsessed with World’s Funniest Commercials growing up. I owe my career to Lochie Daddo… or was it Andrew? Or maybe Cameron.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
A lack of trust. You can have the greatest planners, account people and creatives in the world but without trust between agency and client, you can’t make great work. The best work I’ve ever made in my career is due to an amazingly open, honest and trustworthy relationship between us and the client. Shout out to Craig Harkness and Mark Wiedermann.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
I think the biggest challenge our industry has is that there’s an ever-increasing amount of people who are trying to cut our lunch. Platforms, consultancies, media companies and in-house agencies are all having a crack at our clients. I think the creative process that exists in agencies will remain triumphant in the end though. There’s a weird alchemy of disciplines and personalities that exists within an agency that just works and I haven’t seen it replicated successfully (yet).

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
I spent my formative years at McCann.

Notable campaigns you have worked on:
I’ve had the most success (creative and effectiveness) on my work with V Energy over the last six years. The long-term Gold APAC Effie for long-term effectiveness was a highlight. Of late campaigns such as Extra Support Acts and Pedigree Donate with a Mate are getting a bit of love around the world.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
My father. He came to Australia from Sri Lanka and worked in a bank during the day and cleaned offices at night. He had a long and successful career in finance, but his family was always his number one priority.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Chase great work not money. The latter comes when you get the former.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
I think an architect would be my dream job although I look a bit funny in a turtleneck.

My mantra is:
It’s only advertising.

My favourite advert is:
Work I wish I’d done. Blood Normal from AMV. Meet Graham from Clem’s Melbourne. Coke v Coke Zero CP+B. Pedigree Child Replacement from Colenso. Tap Project from D5. I could go on for days…

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Music –I’m a massive bearded cliché but I collect vinyl for home listening and Spotify for listening at work.
TV – Foxtel (for Grand Designs), Kayo (for golf and AFL) Netflix and Stan (for everything else).

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I’m an open book… there is very little I don’t share with people.

In five years' time I'll be:
An ECD at a top tier agency.

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