The Monkeys: Adland’s provocateurs

By AdNews | Sponsored
Scott Nowell, Mark Green, Fabio Buresti and Justin Drape

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Ten years ago The Monkeys set out on a mission to Make Provocative Ideas Happen and with bold work generating headlines around the world and transcending into mainstream culture, it's making good on its mantra.

Born out of frustration with the status quo within networked agencies, The Monkeys is known for its controversial work and sparking real, household conversations in this country and beyond, such as the one about diversity from its recent Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) ad.

“The brand landscape is continuing to evolve at warp speed and as a result, audiences are becoming immune to bland brand communication,” The Monkeys CEO Mark Green says.

The Monkeys were acquired by Accenture this week

“Brands have historically spent far too much time and money saying what they want to say, rather than what an audience wants to hear, so for a brand to stand out in today’s competitive market it has to surprise people, engage them and reward them for their time. That’s why brands need provocative thinking, if not they will simply be ignored.”

Arguably the most talked about ad agency in Australia, The Monkeys has embedded itself into the Australian vernacular, most recently with its ads for MLA , and work on one of the biggest brand launches of last year with Telstra. 

When The Monkeys launched its 2017 MLA ad that shirked its previous Australia Day association, it quickly became the most talked about to date, raising issues that went to the very core of multiculturalism and right to to the heart of when should the national day take place.

The agency’s work is discussed between clients in meetings, colleagues natter about it in the hallways, newsreaders run headline stories about them, competitors like to denounce them and friends talk about them at BBQs.

“Great ideas make brands famous and our clients famous so if our ideas aren’t worth talking about we start again and try and create one that is. If all goes to plan, we might overhear somebody raving about it at the next BBQ we go to,” Green said.

But The Monkeys don’t do provocative for the sake of it. It’s a strategic move for the agency and also its clients, explained chief creative officer Justin Drape.

“We live by the idea that it’s okay if you try and fail with brave ideas, but it’s not okay if you fail to try. And we encourage everyone to create provocative ideas although we don’t create work just for shock value,” he said.

“Our thinking comes from a strong strategic foundation and that gives us the freedom to push the work because it all makes sense in the first place.”

Drape said it’s the inspirational words of USA founding father Benjamin Franklin that keeps the agency focussed on the work: “well done is better than well said”.

“Instead of blabbing to people about all the great things he was going to do - which happens a lot in our industry - Franklin actually did them,” he said.

“We would like to think we work the same way. We like to surprise the world with provocative ideas, surprise our clients with smart solutions and surprise ourselves along the way.”

Retaining 100% of its clients in 2016, picking up more work for Telstra and Qantas and most recently landing the Pizza Hut account, The Monkeys is showing no signs of slowing down but still holds close to the spirit it launched with.

“We always make sure we find a way to do what a client needs and this isn’t always what a client thinks they want. Whether it is through persistence, skill or downright determination, we always find a way to collaborate positively towards the right solution. Along the way you win and lose but I think all of our clients feel like we are working towards the same goal,” Green said.

So what’s next for The Monkeys?

"To make provocative ideas happen is a life’s work so we are prepared to go the distance. The most important job in the world is the one we are working on right now and long may that continue,” Green said.

Monkey say, monkey do.

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