Special Group adds new humans, ups ‘strategic firepower’

You may have noticed a few pictures of Special Group’s flash new Drake St offices gracing the homepage of StopPress last week when it was helping to edit the site as part of our Hog the Blog Axis prize. And the 16th fastest growing company in New Zealand/Creative hotshop nominee has recently added a few humans to help fill those flash offices up, with Hilary Cootes being promoted to the role of general manager, Nigel Sutton and Rahat Chaudry joining as head of production and strategic planner respectively, and Claire Beatson returning from maternity leave. 

Cootes started her career at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand before moving to Amsterdam to work on the global Vodafone account at Wieden & Kennedy. After a stint in London at WCRS she moved to New York independent agency Anomaly for three years where she led innovation projects for Proctor and Gamble and worked on the US Coca Cola business. She returned to London in 2008 and joined leading independent Karmarama (which was recently named “Best UK Workplace” by The Sunday Times).

“We were delighted to bring Hilary on board when she returned to New Zealand at the beginning of last year,” says Special managing partner Michael Redwood. “Not only is she an outstanding strategic account handler, but she also brings a wealth of experience from her senior positions at some of the very best agencies in the world. She’ll play a key role in helping the partners build Special’s capabilities and culture.”

Sutton has joined Special after more than ten years in production at Colenso BBDO and .99, with a remit to manage the agency’s workflow and creative output.

“I’ve known Nigel since he was a junior at Colenso, and seen him develop into a genuine super-producer comfortable managing even the most complex campaigns” says Redwood. “He’s already made a huge difference to Special’s systems and productivity and will play a key role as the agency grows”.

Chaudry started her career at Toyota North America where she specialised in developing brand names for car models. More recently she spent the past five years at famed New York branding agency Landor.

“Rahat has a huge amount of experience in branding and new product development, and it’s great that we can bring this world-class talent to our clients—both in design and advertising,” says Redwood. “And with longstanding strategic planner Claire Beatson back from maternity leave we’ve really upped our strategic firepower.”

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