Good to go: AIM Proximity’s digital doyen departs to take up global role

First Brent Smart left his managing director role at Colenso BBDO for a plum posting at the BBDO mothership in San Fran. Now Adam Good is following suit, with the AIM Proximity Auckland chief executive and Clemenger Group Australasian director of digital innovation resigning from his posts to take up the role of executive vice president of Proximity Worldwide.
Good, who officially leaves his role in New Zealand on 1 July, will be focused on running new business, managing some major multi-national accounts and providing support to the local North American Proximity teams.

He replaced Darryn Melrose as chief executive in late 2009 and was handed the Australasian Clems digital responsibilities soon after. And one of his first jobs was to find replacements for creative director Dave King and planning director Tony Burt, both of whom followed Melrose to M&C Saatchi.

Under his reign, Colenso BBDO has twice been recognised as the Interactive Agency of the Year from B&T Magazine in 2008 and 2010 and it was also named the second best direct agency in the world according to the Won Report in 2009. And don’t forget the Webbys, Caples, Cannes and many more awards, largely for the work on Yellow, but also for things like the Love Conspiracy for the Warehouse, the Go Girls Virginity Map and TVNZ’s The Pacific campaign.

When Good was appointed chief executive, he said: “New Zealand marketing is adapting from air bombing a large group of people with a few ad messages to engaging lots of smaller audiences with targeted messages and useful applications. This is a fundamental shift from basic integration—which is simply the same idea and message executed in a different channel—to saying different things to different people depending on the data held about them. Tomorrow’s most successful companies will be those that use data to their customer’s advantage, as opposed to their own.”

As such, he always knew big agencies would need to embrace direct marketing thinking. And he’s been proven right. The local marketing landscape has changed dramatically, both in terms of which agencies are considered small, medium and large and also the way businesses are engaging their customers.

“All agencies have embraced interactive direct thinking, some better than others. Brands and businesses have realised they need to take more ownership of their customers. They need to nurture and grow them. Four years ago, corporations were speaking to their customers when they wanted to. Now customers are wanting genuine customer experiences. So they’ve had to come down from their ivory towers and find out how they can interact with them and improve their owned media.”

Good says moving from Hong Kong to Auckland four years ago was the best decision of his life and he feels “very lucky to have worked alongside some of the best creative, strategic and agency management talent in the world”.

The work on Yellow stands out as a gamechanger, he says, because “it’s difficult to determine what kind of communication it is”. But it was also an impressive display of agency collaboration to, ahem, get the job done and he says the agency group learned a lot by going through the process.

“[Yellow’s] business is changing dramatically, not just on the business side, but on the marketing side as well … There’s no doubt Yellow Pages is a wonderful client.”

Four years ago, he says the Clems agencies might not have even worked together, but now it’s often hard to determine who does what, which shows how the different skill-sets and ways of thinking are being used more effectively. And also how some of the silos of yesteryear have been knocked down to make it more efficient for clients.

Largely as a result of the Yellow Pages work, Colenso and AIM, and to a lesser extent New Zealand as a whole, now has something of an international reputation for integrated and innovative campaigns. But despite its heavy involvement, AIM still seems to fly under the radar, with the limelight—and the accolades—regularly directed at Colenso. Good doesn’t find this annoying and says the agency has always been a ‘trojan horse’. It had Yellow Pages, TVNZ and was heavily involved with Air New Zealand before its flashy creative brother (or retail focused cousin .99, which it has worked with closely over the years, including on the Farmers account) got anywhere near them.

“In some ways AIM has always been in the background. But it’s sometimes quite good to not be at the front of it.”

Personally, he says he has really enjoyed working with TVNZ. He says it has transformed itself from a TV network to a modern broadcaster that really is providing content on every screen and has learned the importance of creating communities and involvement around its shows, like the Go Girls Virginity Map.

“I think the work on The Pacific shows that when communications are experiential and interactive, both in real and digital terms, that’s when it becomes interesting,” he says.

Clemenger Group chief executive Jim Moser says Good has done a brilliant job since his arrival in New Zealand over four years ago, “helping both agencies dominate in the digital world”.

“With Adam’s incredibly strong digital background, he was the ideal person to lead AIM Proximity into its next evolution.  The business is in a strong position today thanks to Adam and his leadership team’s direction”, he says. “We wish Adam and his family great success in the United States. Adam’s continuing role with Proximity Worldwide means that we will continue to have his input and contribution to our Proximity business in New Zealand.  That’s a win win for everyone.”

The transition for his new role has already begun and he will spend the next two months travelling between Auckland and San Francisco. And as for his replacement, Good says there will be some exciting hires announced in the next month or so, some local, some from offshore.

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