BrandWorld celebrates 20 years by reflecting on its past

Last night, in a Freeman’s Bay bar, BrandWorld celebrated 20 years in business with its staff, clients, friends and many glasses of wine. Alongside a trip down memory lane with a few speeches by managing director Richard Stevens and founder Bill Peake, it farewelled industry legend John MacDonald, by sharing his successes and bad calls, and remembered its former executive director Mike O’Sullivan, whose passing last year was felt across the industry.

“Tonight we are celebrating anarchy…revolution… and disruption…and no you haven’t accidentally stumbled into Winston Peters first election rally of the year,” Stevens said as he greeted the audiences, referring to BrandWorld’s establishment as an agency that paved the way for a new form of advertising.

At a time when content was all about text and pictures, the original founders—or “anarchists” as they’re otherwise known—Bill Peake, David MacGregor and Grieg Buckley—saw the value in content marketing as a way of sharing information and built a business around that idea.

It’s since watched as other players in the industry cottoned onto the value of content while also ensuring it remains ahead by creating content of value for every conceivable screen.

“We sit and smile because I guess in a funny way the market’s come to where we’ve always been,” Stevens says.

But that’s not to say that it no longer has a speciality knowledge as Stevens says a lot of people have jumped on the content bandwagon without having a good purpose in mind.

“A lot of our work is to drive sales, get leads and change opinions but others are feeding content hubs without knowing what they’re trying to achieve.”

Stevens says if people take the time to consider why they’re producing something it can last for years, and the longevity of BrandWorld’s work certainly stands as a testament of this, with a number of its mastheads running nearly as long as the agency itself.

‘Family Health Diary’ has been changing the face of health advertising for 20 years and just ticked over its 1000th commercial and turned over and estimated $75 million, while ‘Food in a Minute’ for Heinz Watties is still running after 18 years.

There’s also ‘The Mix’, which for the last seven years or so has been giving consumers a few new cocktail ideas.

Stevens says it’s an example of how BrandWorld is proactive and doesn’t rest on its laurels waiting for a client to come it. For ‘The Mix’, like many of its mastheads, the team saw how well the wine industry was going, how craft beer was giving beer a boost but the spirits market was lacking momentum.

It’s solution for Lion, with TVNZ, was to bring all of its spirits brands together on ‘The’ Mix and show them being used and combined to make a range of drinks.

“It’s a category-changing idea,” Stevens says, “and it’s been successful for Lion”.

The campaigns run on both TV and in the digital space, but they champion TV as their mass-reach media.

While Steven’s acknowledges digital platforms, like social media, can quickly build up engagement, it’s no match for TV’s reach. With this in mind, BrandWorld uses TV like a trailer for content which can then be found on a dedicated website.

He gives the example of how ‘Food in a Minute’ has nearly 180,000 likes on Facebook but still sees the bulk of its views on TV.

“It’s a great model, it just works, it endures and it’s powerful to its audience,” he says.

What’s also endured in its 20 years has been its commitment to offering clients options for less. It already had a low-cost model for video distributed through TV and now with digital, there’s a range of new options to work with.

“It’s all about a low-cost model that delivers content quickly and easily.”

When speaking about that characteristic last night, he compared Brandworld to the traditional ad agency model that in its early day wasn’t exactly client friendly—due to flying creatives overseas to film in a particular location when a perfectly good local spot could have fitted the bill for less.

“So BrandWorld was formed in a mood of disruption – that there just had to be a more effective, more affordable model that was a hell of a lot less hassle than the traditional agency one,” he said.

Looking into the future, BrandWorld plans to continue to add pieces to its video offering, with data being one of those, Stevens says.

As data and marketing merge closer and closer together with automated marketing, the company wants to be able to offer that on top of what it already does.

“It’s about having a wonderful central skeleton of a strong, effective and affordable model and then adding on the pieces as they come through,” he says.

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