Y&R Auckland’s previous creative director Vaughn Davis left the agency in September last year after a decade at the firm and Wellington creative group head Duncan Munro was enlisted to lead Y&R’s creative output until Davis' replacement was found.
The search was already underway back then, so it's taken a while to find the right candidate, but as a number of local agencies will probably attest, the role of creative director is a crucial one for any agency and isn't a decision that should be rushed into (lest they pack up and leave a few months later).
Wells, who lives in Wellington but will become a regional man of mystery and split his time between the two offices, will be responsible for idea generation and leadership in partnership with creative teams in both offices and will be a key partner for chief executive Jon Ramage and national planner Janisa Parag. And while the relatively fresh digital arm VML@Y&R led by Nigel Hammersley and Michael Gregg is a separate entity with its own clients and "ideation" processes, Ramage says they will also be able to call on the expertise of the man he calls an "ideas machine".
Wells has more than 20 years experience in the business in a career spanning client side marketing at DB, account leadership, agency management and most recently as national creative planner for Y&R. He’s worked on some of the agency's biggest and most successful campaigns and is a passionate digital native.
Ramage says the hire is part of a restructuring and while "it's taken a while to get sorted", he's confident the agency has prepared for the future. Y&R's clients aren't looking for big brand ads, he says, and it's not really in the agency's DNA anyway. Instead, they're looking for creative business solutions and Ramage believes the fact that Wells has "walked in their shoes" in the past is extremely beneficial.
“The future of our business is the creation of ideas that help clients grow," he says. "Jason’s appointment reinforces that and is a natural extension of the integrated approach Y&R is well known for: smart, effective work across all channels be they retail, brand or one-to- one."
The first priority for Wells, a top notch cricketer who played in the Fill the Basin charity event (but failed to bring back autographs requested by Ramage), will be some key new hires for both offices, "followed by a renewed focus on truly innovative ideas".
Update: Jason Wells says Duncan Munro is currently in Berlin and will be there for four months, so his role in Wellington has been temporarily filled by Tony Haig. The position of creative director in Auckland is yet to be filled.