Industry Profile: Josh Butt at Ampel

By AdNews | 23 June 2022
Josh Butt

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

Josh Butt: Founder at Ampel

Time at the company:
I founded Ampel 3.5 years ago.

How would you describe what the company does?
Ampel is an audio-led content experience company. We create strategies and content for audio environments including podcasts, interactive voice skills, internal and supplier audio, customer experience and more. Anywhere audio could play a great role in engaging people really - no matter what the objective - we’re there.

Ampel is building its own original podcast slate with great creators like Mark Pesce, Georgie Carroll and Diana Nguyen, with many more shows launching in 2022.

We work with brands who are looking to enter the audio space – be it creating their own audio brand, developing audio strategy and creative, supporting employee engagement through audio led HR strategies, audio content for suppliers or customers, or working with a client in audio media production and distribution.

Additionally, we make brand-funded TV shows and content, and getting ready to make Season 2 of Waltzing Jimeon which will air later this year.

What do you do day-to-day?
Ampel is a place where everyone is encouraged to contribute some of their time to passion projects. Two of our team members are about to launch their own podcasts, which I’m supporting the development of them.

We’re developing a slate of exciting new podcasts so we’re always looking at what we’re making or could be making. I’m writing a sitcom podcast two mornings a week, and we’ve just started producing a mini doco about our company, so that’s scary but fun.

All of this while juggling being a parent to my two beautiful daughters and a husband to my amazing wife Jo.

Define your job in one word:

I got into marketing because:
My dad encouraged me to go into marketing and my first work experience was at George Patterson Bates, my second was at Channel 7 and was on community radio. I think the combination of all three media experiences really shaped me because I was so aware of how connected the advertising / sponsorship was to the making of the work.

I studied Business Management and Accounting while at the same time being a stand up comic and TV producer and then went to the Victorian College of the Arts to study Producing.

People in the ad world kept asking me to produce funny ads, so I was able to merge my love for comedy and ads to create some funny commercials. As my career moved into branded TV, content and podcasting, I saw the opportunity to create a company that makes content with comedians.

Marketing has to tell a great story to sell a product and the way people watch or listen to content is on their terms… I think there should be more jokes and fun in marketing.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Crappy shit programmatic audio ads in my podcasts.

The best part about digital audio and podcasts was that the ads could be much more creative… we’ve recently reverted to the host read ad or an ad that tries to pretend it’s a podcast ad.

As an industry we should be trying to make audio ads that are way more creative and interesting — if the creative cares more about the message than the audience, we’re going to see a huge drop in the engagement we’re seeing at present. Podcasting ads have brand consideration that’s above 60% to stay there the ads need to be great.

Notable campaigns you have worked on:

Modern Babies was the big one for me in podcasting as it changed perception of what a brand funded podcast could be - and we injected humour and emotion into a serious topic. It was my first ever and it spawned a few more series. Westpac Air Rescue which I was executive Producer of (when at MediaCom Beyond Advertising) ran for 5 seasons on Channel 7 and was an amazing series that did great things for the brand. FIFA 15 (EA Sports) was really successful and a career highlight. Beyond The Frame which was with Edelman and HSBC, again, challenged a client to do something different with a partnership.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
Gemma Hunter was my boss at Mediacom Beyond Advertising (now GM Marketing at Myer) and she gave me amazing guidance and scope to grow. So too Nina Nguyen (now at Menulog). Grant Anderson at Thinkerbell regularly shares words of wisdom and encouragement. My business partner Artie Laing who is one of the best talent managers out there has long mentored me about the comedy industry.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
It’s gruelling, full of rejection, risks and sacrifice. But if you do want to run your own company the best advice I can give you is this -- have an idea of what you want to be doing in 15 years and work backwards - where you don’t have skills, get them, or hire people who do. Hire people who are smarter than you and revel in it.

Have no ego. Take the time to find a business partner you trust and then actually trust them. My business partner in Ampel, Michelle Lomas, is way smarter and better at so many things than I am. We have her to thank for our explosive growth, improved everything and she doesn’t have to wonder if she has my trust. But giving your trust to someone requires that you shelve your ego.

As a boss of a company, your ego matters the least - what matters is that your team, their families, your family, everyone else must come before you. If they’re happy and doing well, you will too - let everyone else take the glory for the wins, and as the boss, you take responsibility for the losses.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
A broke comedy writer who was miserable and struggling for gigs and punchlines.

My mantra is:
Continuous Improvement

My favourite advert is:
Easy. Goggo Mobile. G-o-g-g-o. No, It’s not the dart. It’s not the dart. They always think it’s the dart.

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