Industry Profile: MercerBell executive creative director Vaughan Townsend

5 May 2020

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.

This week we speak to MercerBell executive creative director Vaughan Townsend.

Time at the company:
Just over a week.

How would you describe what the company does?
We create highly personalised brand and customer experiences from powerful behavioural and data driven insights.

What do you do day-to-day?
At the moment I’m spending lots of time on makeshift garden furniture (indoors and at home) whilst working out how to use Microsoft Teams.

Looking at the work, talking to creative teams, catching up with senior leadership has never been so sedentary. I’m looking forward to walking around and having those impromptu agency corridor conversations again!

Define your job in one word:

I got into advertising because:
I met the guy who did the Peperami ad and decided to put my career as a vet on hold.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
If I had to sum it up in one word it would be apathy. It’s too easy to settle for the safe option. Especially with what’s going on at the moment. Ideas that make a difference and create real change take time, effort, energy and investment from clients and agency alike. And in my experience, it’s always worth it in the long run.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Tackling diversity wholeheartedly and reflecting society and the real world within agencies. We spend too much time talking to ourselves and not being part of the real culture outside.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
Ogilvy, M&C Saatchi, TBWA.

Notable campaigns you have worked on:
Boots Wellness Reboot, Boots Christmas Bootiques, the IKEA Family work, Land Rover Defender and the launch of Fresca in SA.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
Probably my first CD, Graham Warsop, an ex-barrister from London who set up The Jupiter Drawing Room in SA. He taught me the power of a well-constructed argument, the importance of craft and being kind, helpful or preferably both at the same time.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Resilience and the ability to bounce back is a useful skill. Especially now.

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

My mantra is:
Do or don’t do, there is no try. Unashamedly nicked from Yoda.

My favourite advert is:
I like lots of the current work out there, Whopper Detour is great, Aeromexico… but Walk for the Nazis has to be one of my favourites. So simple and subversive yet powerful and effective at the same time.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Literally all of them but Baby Shark seems to be the only thing we’re allowed to hear or see.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I once rode in the Tour de France (unofficially).

In five years' time I'll be:
Listening to something other than Baby Shark.

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