Young Gun: Wavemaker Adelaide senior digital manager Ben Doecke

20 June 2019

Our Young Gun profile takes a look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today we speak to Wavemaker Adelaide senior digital manager Ben Doecke.

How long have you been in the industry?
Just ticked over six years.

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?
The plan was to end up working client-side, but to be to be honest, I was just happy to get any job in marketing. The Adelaide marketing scene is small and close-knit, and when the universities are collectively producing hundreds of marketing graduates each year, it’s incredibly competitive.

When I applied for the junior role I had no idea what a media agency did. My university course didn’t mention a media agency once. MEC (now Wavemaker) had some big-brand clients, so it seemed like an interesting place to work.

Who’s your right-hand person/who guides you day to day?
It’s got to be my dog Milo, who also happens to be the office dog and sits next to me every day. Whenever things get stressful, you can always rely on Milo to remind you that there’s more to life than the problems directly in front of you.

Best thing about the industry you work in:
The role of a media agency has changed from just negotiating the best rates, to uncovering truly unique audience insights which can alter a business’s entire strategy. We’re not stuck in a cycle of coming up with big idea after big idea, but rather getting under the skin of the client to make lasting changes.

And the biggest challenge?
By and large, media agencies are still remunerated when media has been booked. But the work that is most valuable to clients is often done well before this point and, as a result, is sometimes not properly valued.

Define your job in one word:
Expanding.

What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?
I honestly had no expectations heading into this industry. The role of agencies was absent from my entire uni education. I hadn’t even seen an episode of Mad Men! (But I’ve since binged the entire series on Netflix).

How does the reality match up?
Luckily, there’s very little comparison to Mad Men in our agency.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?
At Wavemaker, our entire focus is on the consumer purchase journey, and how we can influence them at every stage of making a purchase decision. My career started from a digital specialist role, but now involves getting under the skin of clients and their industries to find the best ways to help their businesses grow.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?
Sometimes the people you’re dealing with day-to-day on the client side weren’t the people who appointed your agency. It can be a struggle to convince these people you’re on their side, particularly when they think they can do your job. But you have to keep pushing and do the job you’ve been hired to do.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?
The Analytics team. There are so many insights which can be unlocked through data, and ‘reading through the data’ to find these insights will become invaluable for years to come.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?
I feel there is a general shift in the attitudes of clients which see us more than just media planners and buyers. We’re being invited to board meetings and business strategy sessions, well before we ever receive a media brief.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?
The trend towards in-housing of media services is a worry. Sure, it can result in short-term cost savings. But the knowledge shared across an agency that can be applied to multiple clients is invaluable. If media knowledge is siloed within a single client, they’ll be reliant on a small group of people to challenge the status quo and drive innovation.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
Any job that offers the ability to make real and decisive changes to grow businesses.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
I love hearing the ideas of people who have just entered the industry. While experience is invaluable, new entrants have opinions and ideas that are completely fresh and not bogged down in reality.

My favourite advert is?
The ‘Big Ad’ for Carlton Draught. I can still picture this being concepted in a brainstorm, but would have usually been thrown away for being too unrealistic. It’s also unmistakably advertising Carlton Draught. Too many ads nowadays are just funny or quirky for the sake of it, but say nothing about the brand and you could slap any logo on the end frame. The ‘Big Ad’ ticks all of the boxes.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I’d never been drunk before my first MEC Christmas party.

In five years’ time I'll be:
I’ll be video conferencing someone from my team in Singapore, discussing our client from the UK. I believe media agencies will still be strong, but we’ll be truly global and more integrated into client marketing teams to provide strategic advice. Oh, and I’ll be doing all of that on my way to work in my car, which will be driving itself.

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