Biggsy and Duster may sound like characters in a gangster flick. But they're actually Assignment Group's two newest hires, Philip Andrew and Peter Biggs.
Andrew departed Clemenger BBDO Wellington early this year after around 25 years spent working with various agencies under the Clemenger Group umbrella. And Biggs announced his departure from the role of chief executive at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne last year after 15 years with the Clemenger Group in New Zealand and Australia. He returned to the homeland and took up a role as inaugural chair of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency board (Assignment has had to step aside from WREDA, but Biggs remains the chair).
Assignment co-founder Peter Cullinane says these hires were a long time in the making but he believes it's the perfect outcome for what he calls "Assignment phase two".
Having the Lewis Road Creamery tiger by the tail, as well as holding various directorships with Sky City, NZME and STW Group, meant the reality was the demands on his time were too great. His goal for this year was to get Assignment Group in order and then step back from the day-to-day, so now that's done, he will fulfil more of an executive director role.
"Now I can breathe a sigh of relief," he says. And, rest assured, he says the team will still get the occasional bottle of chocolate milk.
He says Biggs wanted to come back to New Zealand and "do something that was absolutely as he wanted it done".
"That's where this is so good because our view of what should be done is very consistent," he says.
Co-founder Howard Greive was also "at the forefront of the conversation" and will still be a "fully signed up member" of the business. And another co-founder Kim Thorp, like Cullinane, has plenty of irons in other fires and wants spend his time doing the things he loves, like creating great work, rather than doing admin.
Both Andrew and Biggs will be based in Wellington, but they will also oversee the Auckland office (they won't play a role with STW). Cullinane says Biggs will be spending a lot of time in Auckland as it's a "land of opportunity" at the moment. But he says the desire is to "continue the way we started and not get too caught up about who does what".
"Peter and Duster were up yesterday meeting all the troops and the reception from the team was one of great excitement," he says.
When contacted, Andrew said he's enjoyed his time off and tried not to write any lists. And in an emailed statement: “We have joined a company who have at its core a desire to live and work outside of the norms of the mainstream advertising agencies and we intend to remain true to that principle and to build on the legacy. It appeals to us both that Assignment are true business partners to their clients and as such are not limited to purely advertising solutions. To be given the opportunity to be part of Assignment Group and work with a team of people we have respected for many years as competitors is a wonderful privilege. To be able to work together again as comrades-in-arms, makes it even more exciting. I asked Biggs what he reckoned and he thought for a moment and said, 'Deeds not words dear chap'.”
Both Andrew and Biggs are hugely experienced, well-respected and extremely well-connected, especially in Wellington. So this development will no doubt have a few agencies looking over their shoulders. Let the battle commence.