Well-established indie players like Special Group, Barnes, Catmur & Friends, Shine, Federation, Affinity ID, justONE, Sugar and a few others have been around for a while now, but there haven't been too many newcomers in recent years. Well, John McCabe and Mel Turkington have added their names to that list by opening the doors of Einstein's Hairdresser, an Auckland-based "creative consultancy" with a slogan that says: "You’re the genius; we just make you look good."
McCabe was executive creative director at both the now defunct Campaign Palace and Saatchi & Saatchi in New Zealand, worked at DDB, BMF and BBH, and set up Fahrenheit 212 in New York in 2001, while Turkington has spent over 12 years in the biz working at Saatchi & Saatchi London, as well as Cummins & Partners, The Brand Shop and McCann in Australia (she's also just finished writing a book). The pair have worked on big global brands like Coke, Toyota, P&G, Kimberly Clark, Apple and Levi's and won plenty of awards for their efforts along the way.
"One day you might find us doing a pitch for a local ad agency. The next we could be making a children's TV show and connecting it to a brand. Or we could be over in the USA helping a company develop a new product. But whatever it is we are doing, it will have strategic planning behind it, a big idea at the centre and a successful brand story to tell afterwards ... We also believe people do their best work when they are enjoying themselves. So we tend to have a lot of fun. Sometimes we wish we weren't us, just so we could hang out with us."
McCabe says the pair are currently working with a couple of start-ups in New Zealand and finishing off a project in New York involving a cartoon band called Ice Cold Chilly Penguins that's aimed at kids and hopes to get brands to connect with it.
"They've just just to get popular first," he says.
"What we're doing now is putting really good people we've met around the world together," he says. And with a number of clients, such as Air New Zealand or Telecom, often using a main agency and handing out projects to other agencies with good ideas, he's hopeful they can get their hands on a few more projects.
"I had a great time in New York, but it was seven years, so that was long enough. I was sitting in New York thinking it would be really cool to do something for New Zealand. We know how things work now, we can connect things and we know the digital area pretty well. So how do we market something to the world? Well, we're about to find out if we can do it."
Living in New Zealand and working internationally is an oft-stated but rarely achieved goal for many local companies, but with a fairly long resume, the pair certainly seem to have the required connections. And, in an increasingly borderless digital world, it's becoming slightly easier to do it.