Industry Profile: National CEO McCann Australia, Ash Farr

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 8 September 2015
Ash Farr

Our Industry Profile takes a weekly 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 head to Sydney to meet McCann Australia National CEO Ash Farr.

Duration in current role/time at the company: Two years as CEO, four years with McCann, 11 years combined at mart and McCann

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does? McCann is an end-to-end fully integrated creative shop for today’s multi-platform communications landscape. 

In one sentence, what does your role involve?: Providing the leadership, support and resources for our people to be at their best in the interest of solving our clients’ businesses problems.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?: Three consecutive years of winning at Cannes, building a media offering from zero to winning the AGL media account, and winning two Effies.

Best thing about the industry you work in: Applying creativity to solve business problems. How good is that for a job or a career?

Previous industry related companies you have worked at: British Army, Ogilvy, DDB and Y&R, and client side at Virgin and V2 Music (record label). I also founded Spike, a digital music streaming service arguably ahead of its time.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?: I have a great job working with great people, doing great work for great clients. Does it get better than this? However, as proven by our own John Mescall, Jackie Currie and Henry Tajer, IPG and McCann WorldGroup is a hyper-connected network that will move talent around. Did you know we have an office in Azjerbanjan?

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?: I have separately lost at poker to Harry Connick Jnr, Kylie, Keifer Sutherland and Lenny Kravitz. I guess I am not good at poker.

Top networking tip: I’m not a fan of networking as a concept but meeting people you respect and asking for their opinions and advice, I do and I do it a lot. 

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is: We’re spoilt for choice in both Sydney and Melbourne. But why do the good ones like the Stokehouse and Porteno keep catching fire?

My favourite advert is: My all-time favourite is DDB’s ‘Funeral’ for VW.

Then there’s Coke ‘Beach Ball’ in the ’80s, Carling Black Label ‘Sunbeds’ in the ’90s, Guinness ‘Surfer’ in the ’00s, and today DC Shoes ‘Pipe dream’. And of course DWTD.

My must-have gadget is: I don’t think she would take kindly to be referred to as a gadget, but my assistant is my must-have. 

My favourite media is: Film in any format still tells the best stories, but I appreciate all media when used well. None when not used well (which is often, unfortunately).

My favourite TV show is:  My top 3 are House of Cards, Suits and GOT. And any Liverpool FC game being shown. I’m also interested to see what happens with the new Top Gear from Amazon. But I hate all reality shows – television’s equivalent of ice.

The last book I read: Creativity Inc, the story of how Pixar maximises creativity, and Who Gets What by Nobel Prize-winning economist Alvin Roth on market design.

My mantra / philosophy is: Who dares wins

I got into advertising because: I didn’t want to be a banker and the British film industry didn’t have a graduate program.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I’d be: Managing Liverpool Football Club. After playing no7 for them, I’d have a good chance, wouldn’t I?

In five years’ time I'll be: Hopefully more of the same! Driving a business forward using the same principles of strong vision, culture and brilliant people who want to make a difference for clients who need to make a difference. 

Define your job in one word: Leadership 

What’s your poison: 18-year-old Oban single malt whisky

Want to take part in Industry Insights or have some one to nominate? Email

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