Industry Profile: Wavemaker Melbourne digital director Steve Thornton

5 October 2021
Wavemaker Melbourne digital director Steve Thornton

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 Wavemaker Melbourne digital director Steve Thornton.

Time in current role/time at the company:
18 months

How would you describe what the company does?
Wavemaker is built on finding better ways for our clients to grow their business. We are focussed on bringing the right data, technology, content and people (or anything else we can lay our hands on!) to answer the business challenges of our clients.

What do you do day-to-day?
I work with a team of exceptional people leading the digital capabilities for one of our largest FMCG clients. There is no typical day!

Today I’ve prepared a presentation for an internal team on a successful piece of work from 2020, collaborated with a colleague at the creative agency on a framework for innovation, worked with my team to optimise an ecommerce campaign based on state lockdown restriction changes and spent some time thinking about Batman (seriously).Then it was lunchtime.

Define your job in one word:

I got into media because:
Of a series of happy coincidences and a number of very supportive people.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Keeping up; the pace of change is remarkable. When I started in media, digital was predominantly display buying on whichever news site was the biggest and I was starting to present ad opportunities on a growing platform called ‘Facebook’ (it’ll never take off). Now keeping up in digital is being an expert in media, data, identity, privacy, adtech, martech, ecommerce…etc. etc. That’s part of what makes it exciting. ‘Digital’ is now at the forefront of cultural and societal change and the discussions around issues we face today will have far reaching consequences for years to come.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Representation. Ensuring diversity of people means diversity of thought and diversity of ideas which ultimately only serves to benefit not just our work but our personal growth. Hearing opinions that differ from our own is becoming increasingly difficult and consequently has never been more important.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
My first proper job was in local radio sales in the north of England. Having joined Bauer Radio through the graduate scheme, spending my time trying to sell radio space to car dealers, restaurants, garden centres, industrial waste centres (I kid you not) and many more was the hardest gig I have ever had. It also taught me more about myself than anything since.

Notable ads/campaigns you have worked on:
As a part of Team Mondelēz here at Wavemaker, if you’ve seen a Cadbury ad in the last two years, chances are I might have had a part in it.

Who is a great mentor to you and why?
My dad. Great advice / always has good beer.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours:
Work hard but don’t let it get in the way. Try and have fun. I am better at the second, still working on the first.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Attempting to make music, paint, sculpt, write or any of the other hobbies I’ve started and quit during Melbourne lockdowns.

My philosophy is:
Be generous.

My favourite advert is:
A UK fave; Ovo Energy ‘Power Your Life Differently’. Purpose done properly. With Slayer.



Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
All the subs. Current TV - revisiting The Sopranos. Still good. Current music - revisiting In Rainbows. Has got (even) better.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
Nothing wrong with keeping a few secrets from your colleagues …

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