Walden to sit at the head of The Family’s table

After establishing the New Zealand arm of Whybin\TBWA around 15 years ago, David Walden resigned from his post last year and made way for Todd McLeay. And now he has officially announced his first new role: chairman of The Family, the agency set up by ex-Ikon leaders Tom Davidson and Lee Parkinson.

“It’s going to be interesting. Lee and Tom I really rate and enjoy,” says Walden. 

While he has plenty of experience with creative agencies, media is a different kettle of fish. But he says it’s not a traditional media agency. It’s about “connections and communication” and there will be a strong focus on digital. 

Digital and Devo

“Haven’t you seen my Twitter name?” he quips. 

He has a number of other projects on the go, he says, so it’s not full time and won’t be hands-on, although most would agree there’s no such thing as a non-hands-on role when Devo’s involved. 

“Define hands on,” says Davidson, who says Walden won’t be involved in the technical, day-to-day side of the business, but will “absolutely be rolling his sleeves up and making decisions”. 

“We’ll be encouraging him to be hands on. He’s going to be putting a lot of time in. He believes in what we’re trying to do. And he’ll probably be able to keep the three of us [Craig Spillane of Bullseye is also a director and shareholder in The Family] in check … He doesn’t want to live it. He’s done that. And that’s not what interests him. He’s interested in a different model and that’s the challenge.” 

When it announced the launch of its new agency earlier this year, it said the agency structure was modelled on that of UK retailer John Lewis, where everyone in the business is considered a partner, and everyone has a stake in the business. 

“Today, the best talent is looking for more from an employer than just a pay cheque. They want to be part of something that stands for more than the product or service they sell,” said Davidson.

The agency also aims to extend this philosophy to clients by providing a responsive service that’s dependent on requirements.

Davidson wasn’t able to reveal any news on clients, but he’s confident its soon-to-launch website will help explain its model and get its feet in doors. He says a lot of clients have have said the model “sounded great”, but he admits it needed the commercial nous of Walden and Spillane so that it makes sense to clients from a business point of view.  

While there’s no official commercial ties between The Family and Bullseye, Davidson says a merger wouldn’t be out of the question in the future. 

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