Marcel founder Nobay exits for boutique startup

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 14 February 2019
David Nobay

Founder of Publicis-owned creative agency Marcel Sydney, David Nobay, will leave the agency this month to focus on a new venture.

Nobay, who was also creative chairman of the agency, led the inception of the business in November 2015 with Tiger Beer as a foundation client.

In 2018 Tiger Beer announced it would be transferring its account within the Publicis Groupe from Sydney to Singapore.

AdNews had tipped Nobay to exit last year and the move follows the departure of Marcel CEO Gavin Levinsohn.

“Nobby is a great bloke, who consistently does great work. (Amazingly, over the years I’ve known him, he’s also managed to shed a ton of weight without losing his infamous talent and energy.),” Publicis Groupe CCO Nick Law says.

“I look forward to buying him a Perrier somewhere in the world as he continues his extraordinary career.”

Nobay, also the former creative chairman at Droga5 Australia, is creating a new venture called “Imperfect Circle”, in partnership with boutique post production agency Fin Design & Effects. He takes up the mantle of partner/creative director at Imperfect Circle from 1 March.

Imperfect Circle

“Like most of us, I still can’t claim to predict what the future looks like for advertising. But I’m pretty sure what it doesn’t: It’s not rigid; not locked into geography or channel. To thrive again, it has to be more gymnastic. None of which is exactly rocket-science,” Nobay said.

The result is, what Nobay describes as, a “creative consultancy model”; designed to facilitate genuinely collaborative projects; primarily around arts and media.

Over the last decade, Nobay has become increasingly known for his artistic forays outside traditional advertising; including penning his first stage play “Moving Parts”, directed for NIDA by Steve Rogers in 2012, as well as his painting exhibitions and, more recently, the project “Artbreaks” created for the ABC Arts Channel and built around his original poetry by Australian Directors, including Warwick Thornton.

Nobay also coined the new venture “MyFavouriteChild” late last year and said he was on the hunt for partners, when a chance meeting over Christmas with Emma Daines, founder of Fin Design & Effects, quickly escalated the conversation.

“Nobby and I have collaborated on film projects for years,” Daines said.

“He’s great fun to work with and we share an obsession with craft, too. For some time, I’ve been musing about bringing in a creative partner to help Fin re-imagine a stand-alone creative group to work across our current offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Shanghai, as well as our upcoming offices in Singapore and LA.

“We wanted it focused on immersive technology, but with a very different creative slant. As soon as we started talking to Nobby, we knew we had found our partner.”

The Imperfect Circle name nods to the new creative company’s focus on “imbuing their tech-driven creations with a transparently human touch”.

In return, Fin has taken an equity stake in Nobay’s MyFavouriteChild consultancy.

 An unknown entity 

A well-known hot shop in Europe, with offices also in New York, Mexico City, Sau Paulo, Marcel was very much an unknown entity in Australia, but was deemed as one of Publicis Groupe’s offbeat creative gems.

The Sydney office officially opened its doors in March 2016 and was born out of a number of circumstances coming together in December the year before. At the crux was the fall of Droga5 and Publicis Mojo.

Both shops had their time in the spotlight. The Droga5 story is well−known and Mojo, a 40−year−old Australian creative brand, was at one time one of Publicis’ gems in Australia, but it had lost its shine. Out of their ashes rose Marcel - an entirely different beast.

When the news emerged in December 2015 that Nobay, who has 40 Cannes Lions under his belt, was back at the helm of another Sydney agency, a few eyebrows were raised. It was just three months after Droga5’s unceremonious shutdown, and a large portion of the demise had been pinned down to the creative leader’s lack of focus on the agency. In a very frank and brutally open interview with AdNews in 2015, Nobay took full responsibility when the agency was floundering. He came to terms with it, and moved on.

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