Fackrell changes from floating to fixed

When we sat down for a chat with DDB’s new executive creative director Andy Fackrell a few months back (see full interview below) he said he was enjoying being back in the Kiwi countryside and was pretty keen to stick around if he was enjoying himself. And that’s exactly what’s happened, because he has signed on to become the permanent ECD eight months into his 12 month contract.  

“This was really a natural decision for me,” says Fackrell. “Within a short time I knew I’d landed in an agency consistently striving for greatness. DDB NZ is the equal of the best international agencies and I’m thrilled to be driving its creative output.”

A returning Kiwi, Fackrell has worked the majority of his career in international agencies, spending nine years at 180 Amsterdam and prior to that working on Nike at Weiden + Kennedy Portland, where he won the Cannes Grand Prix for Nike ad ‘Tag’.

“His blend of international sensibilities and Kiwi roots consistently impresses clients,” says Sandy Moore, group chief executive, DDB New Zealand. “Under his steer the Westpac business was won and great work has already had an impact in the market such as Instant Kiwi’s Push Your Luck and McDonald’s Staying Up Late.”

Here’s what he told NZ Marketing magazine back in June. 

On New Zealand: “Having worked largely on global accounts, I’m not used to being in the fishbowl that is New Zealand advertising. Overseas there are a lot more agencies, a lot more work being made and lot more airtime available. Here you really do see your work a lot of the time, so you feel any mistakes you’ve made. In the States, you can sit through a week of programming and you might not even see the ad you’ve made. But that’s the good side of working in New Zealand too, because when you’ve done it well you can make an impact easily … I think the work is great down here and can be compared to anywhere. And while I don’t think we’re better or worse than anywhere else, there are more opportunities to do better work here than in Europe because there are clients that are willing to stick their necks out. No matter what country you’re in, the best work always comes when there’s a direct relationship with the client and little else inbetween. It just so happens that’s always the case in New Zealand … A lot of people use their gut instinct here, which is really uncommon, particularly in Europe.”

On changing the approach: “Toby [Talbot, who’s now at RCKR/Y&R in London] was obviously quite influential and a larger than life character. He was very bombastic and eloquent and funny. And I’m none of those three things. No, you always feel pressure when somebody’s had a long tenure. And he was here for five years. So there will always be expectations about what you’re going to be like … If you want to think of a difference I try to find an insight first. It’s not just writing a gag that will become the commercial. So maybe you’ll see a lot less dialogue and more visual storytelling coming out of the agency in the next few months. For me, that’s a byproduct of working in a multi-cultural environment like Europe on global campaigns where you can’t rely on language to solve problems.” 

On speed: “One New Zealand year is like dog years in Europe. I’m amazed that in my first three months clients are already shooting commercials. I used to tell my teams not to worry about getting anything out in the first two years. That’s a result of the bureaucracy, but also the complexity of working on global businesses like adidas and Sony—and also the likes of AGM—for campaigns that might be running in 150 countries. So it was almost as much of a logistic exercise as it was a creative exercise.”

On the modern CD: “It’s easy to think creative directors in the past have been narrative storytellers or problem solvers or comedians. But I see my role as being the custodian of all the creatives around me. I’m informed by my creatives as much as they are by me. You can’t expect to know everything that’s going on as a creative director any more, or always know the right technology to use. It’s not about coming up with better ideas than everybody else either, because that’s limiting. And when the agency gets bigger, you don’t have the time. Your job is to find the nugget among all the work … You are still the point person or figurehead, the final filter. And clients trust that. So you’re accountable for all the work in the agency in the end.”

On digital: “There are so many more ways to talk to people. A viral clip, an app or a game can be the communication now. The digital revolution took a while to hit because the quality level didn’t match its expectations. Geeks were running things as opposed to aesthetics and now because of broadband and a lot more aspiration from creatives, it’s changing. That’s why fashion brands were not in digital for a long time, because they couldn’t see the aesthetic it built for their luxury brands. It was basically an ugly YouTube page and bad typography. But having all these resources around you now makes it a much more interesting world.” 

On awards: “I have an odd opinion. I believe in them but I don’t believe you should chase them. You need to do the best work possible for the client and I’d rather be talked about by the nation than talked about by award judges, and that was what I learned at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland. We won the most awards when we weren’t thinking about them, when we were making work for our clients—and for Dan Wieden. We felt there was a level we had to get to to make the work great. And at 180 Amsterdam we did the same thing. It helps when you’ve got a great brand like adidas, or, in New Zealand, Lotto, that has expectations about the level of work. I remember someone saying to me that working on Nike must be the easiest thing in the world; that it must be a dream client because they buy everything. But I said ‘do you realise what they’ve done before that you have to try and match, or the number of ideas these guys have killed in their years of doing great advertising?’ So the ideal for me is to build brands up like that so they leapfrog each other each time and do better work for the brands than they did previously. That’s our challenge with Sky.” 

On the year ahead: “I’m enjoying being back in the countryside. And having easy access to a golf course. The number of people here makes life a lot calmer for me … I want to treat this year as a chance to get as much work out as possible and have the energy to go from conception to creation in a few months. That’s a really refreshing thing for me and it’s something I never really expected. Obviously the initial deal was for one year. And I like the finite term to a degree. It motivates me to get more work out quickly, but if I’m liking it so much then why would I want to move? It’s a really nice scenario for me.”

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