Industry Profile: Spark Foundry Melbourne managing director Peter Butler

9 June 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 Spark Foundry Melbourne managing director Peter Butler.

Time in current role:
Over four years.

How would you describe what the company does?
At Spark, we talk about fuelling famously effective ideas. To do that you need to balance brand and consumer understanding with implementation and data smarts. Sounds simple. It’s not. But it’s always worth it.

What do you do day-to-day?
The most important thing I do is encourage and support the team to create an environment where people can do their very best work and also have them bloody love coming to work.

Define your job in a word:
What, just one word? That wouldn’t be very me. I’ll take two: agility and empathy.

The industry moves at such a rapid pace that evaluating the work we do, and what the team want from work, is a full-time job.

I got into advertising because:
I missed out on a job at NZ Post Office, but got one at an ad agency where I ironically started out in the mailroom.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Maintaining a ‘challenger, independent type’ culture. We started with five people, a toaster and a kettle. We might be a long way from that now, but we need to keep the energy we started with. Stay hungry and humble!

What's the biggest industry-wide challenge you'd like to see tackled?
The danger in letting the next shiny thing become the default solution. Not good enough. That’s why, as an agency, we believe media can fuel creativity, ideas and results.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
JWT, Mojo, Clemenger, ZenithOptimedia, UM and Spark.

Notable ad campaigns you have worked on:
Tui Beer, Yeah Right in NZ with Mojo. Voted second best campaign of the century and a true campaignable idea that ran for a decade.

Who has been a great mentor to you, and why?
Sean Cummins: The man behind Tui Yeah Right. He is a polarising man but you can’t deny his passion and it’s contagious. He is the only person I know who asked a client if he would “piss on a Picasso?” when he questioned Sean’s art direction. The client and I still laugh about it now over a beer.

Also, Biggsy (CEO Clemenger) and Duster (CD, Clemenger) for teaching me the value of a good lunch and the importance to have a laugh along the way.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Be patient. Play the long game and for goodness sake enjoy your time before you get into management. It’s more fun there than it is at the top!

If I weren't doing this for a living, I'd be:
After watching NZ play Australia in cricket I will say batting in the top six for NZ and bowling right arm off spin.

My favourite advert is:
The BBH work created for Levis starting in 1982. They did 28 years of outstanding work.

It’s something pretty special when a commercial has the power to still be remembered after two decades. That kind of work can never be replaced through email targeting!

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
I have 18 and 20 year old boys. According my Visa statement, we have everything covered.

Tell us one thing people at work don't know about you?
I’m not really 35.

In five years' time I'll be:
Still trying to convince my boys that Michael Jordan is better than Lebron James.


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