NZME consolidates its commercial and creative forces in CreateMe; so is it a threat to agencies?

NZME continued pulling its strings together with this week’s announcement that it was launching CreateMe, a new division comprising the media company’s core commercial content creators and strategists. 

This move sees NZME Experiential (led by Mike Lane), the branded content department (under Dallas Gurney’s lead), NZME Vision (run by Matt Heath, Jeremy Wells and Cameron Death) and the strategy and planning department (managed by Nina Bialostocki) all brought together.

“The CreateMe team includes all of our specialist powerhouses within NZME in one place, working with clients to generate innovative solutions to their business problems,” says NZME group revenue director Laura Maxwell.  

CreateMe will be run by Fiona McLeod, who steps into her first New Zealand role having worked for 20 years in UK and global media markets.

The position of managing director of CreateMe was specifically created by NZME management in order to introduce McLeod into the team. 

“Before arriving in New Zealand, I spoke to a headhunter, and he said, ‘Look, I’d really like to speak to [NZME chief executive] Jane [Hastings] about you.’ There weren’t any specific roles for me, but then Jane was interested in talking to me. And that’s really how this role was born. My experience over the last eight years has been in global creative solutions [at Metro International], and so it became apparent quite quickly that all the coming together of NZME would sit well with my skill set.”

McLeod says her role will require her to manage the collaboration across the various departments and ensure that the best ideas come to fruition across as many available platforms as possible.

“The reason I’ve been brought in is to bring people together and work more efficiently,” she says. “We have to ensure that the flow of communication internally is at its most efficient and that we’re playing to people’s strengths … We’ve got all of the pieces here already, so it’s just a case of working out how to put those pieces together so that we’re working more efficiently both internally and externally to produce the best quality of work for clients.”

McLeod believes the shifts at NZME are a move in the right direction for a company that is increasingly competing with tech companies born in the digital age.

“You look at the great work that some of the digital companies like Facebook are doing, these guys are constantly breaking boundaries in terms of their content delivery for clients. And we have to roll with that and get better at it. We have to think in a non-traditional way, so that we can approach clients’ problems differently. Content is absolutely the driver.”

The latter part of this statement could just as easily have been made in reference to a creative agency—and this isn’t simply coincidental. CreateMe will in many ways operate very similarly to a creative agency. The team will be required to correspond with clients, develop creative ideas and then execute them across the available media channels (TVNZ Blacksand would be another example of an in-house creative agency).

“There’s nothing more special than people with fantastic ideas that transcend platforms,” she says. “The idea lives and breathes at the centre and it’s the heartbeat of the campaign, but seeing that brought to life across video, digital, radio and publishing all under one roof is incredible.”

And while it does seem to encroach onto agency turf, McLeod says the aim isn’t to step on agencies’ toes. 

“We work in the relationship business, and we only want those relationships to get stronger. The creative agencies will be a big focus for me, in terms of going out and sharing what we’re doing and how we can work together moving forward … To us, the creative agencies are very important. We need to work together and talk to each other.”

She continued by saying that CreateMe is not looking to compete with agencies directly, but is more interested in establishing collaborative partnerships.   

“This is not about taking on other agencies. It’s about producing greater quality work. We would like to work with creative agencies in the future, but at the same time we also have the capabilities to produce fantastic creative for clients as well.”

As with creative agencies, the success of CreateMe will depend largely on the quality of the work that the team produces. And McLeod says CreateMe is already in talks with a few clients, meaning Kiwis won’t have to wait long to get their first taste of what the team is capable of.

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