Stanley St’s 2020 vision: New hires, new accounts, and new determination

Stanley St has been quietly churning out the wins during the last six months, taking on new hires, the Tourism New Zealand account, and further diversifying its in-house strategic offering. Here, we talk to Andrew Reinholds, Head of Media at Stanley St, on the outlook for the rest of the year, as well as hearing from the agency’s new Group Media Director Renée Smith and new Head of Performance Hayden Skelton.

It’s been a quiet few months following Stanley St’s rebirth as an independent agency, but in the case of the black and brick agency located in Parnell, this silence has hardly translated to nothing.

In fact, as we come out of COVID-19 and lockdown, the agency has found itself on strong footing, going from a headcount of 25 to 36 in the media team, securing the Tourism New Zealand account from a virtual pitch, and launching several new strategic growth arms to diversity its offering to existing and incoming clients.

Andrew Reinholds, Head of Media, says the agency has seen a lot of wins already in 2020, with little plans of slowing the trajectory.

“It has been a busy 2020 so far; we launched Rutherford, which is our strategic business hub, and a global fully functioning production company, Stanley St: NZ Made Production. Our media team has grown too – from 25 to 36 – and most of that investment is coming into the specialist digital performance area.

Andrew Reinholds

“Over lockdown we got our Support Local campaign to market, which was something Greg Partington was really passionate about, so we had great support from him and our media partners; TVNZ, MediaWorks, Stuff and NZME. These guys were incredible at helping us get it out to the market in what was a really interesting time.”

Alongside these new elements, Reinholds also signals to an opening of a new public relations arm, which he says comes down to accelerating the diversification in their strategy around services and revenue streams.

Two of those new hires come in the shape of Hayden Skelton as the new Head of Performance and Renée Smith as the new Group Media Director.

Skelton joins Stanley St from Dentsu, bringing with him 12 years’ experience in Australasia working across multi-channel marketing, digital strategy, performance media technology and implementation for leading agencies like Carat & OMD.

Skelton says Stanley St’s in-house capabilities to invest in movements ahead of time makes them well-placed to meet growing client demands.

Hayden Skelton

“We need to continue to pivot our offering around what our clients need, and the global best practice in their industry, for us to continue to deliver great work for them. Stanley St being full service is more important than them being local in a sense, working directly with an internal production department to deliver creative end to end is a dream.”

Skelton has worked with some large international brands with a strong background in programmatic marketing, which he hopes to build further across the group.

“We already have a strong team, but I’m looking forward to building around them, a more holistic omni-channel performance offering.”

“As for points of growth, we will continue to build our holistic search, programmatic and Facebook trading capability, scale up our CRO function and onboard the global leader in omni channel dynamic creative.”

Skelton says he has seen bold investment in web analytic capability from his time at NZ’s previous largest indie agency, and how that translated to the up-skilling of the whole agency, which he says is a movement he is also seeing in Stanley St.

“I see a lot of bravery in the Stanley St leadership team, to build what our clients will need, rather than just delivering what they did need. We’ve got a strong retail legacy, and we want to transition this into an e-commerce future.”

Stanley St, with businesses consulting, media, data, creative, production, social, shopper, and now PR, is on a competitive path to design and deliver innovative solutions for clients present and incoming. Renée Smith says this was a contributing reason to staring her next venture in agency-land.

“It’s nice to be back agency side after five years, and even better working for an agency that doesn’t report to a holding company. If there is one thing I don’t miss about my previous time in agency land, it’s preparing a whole lot of spreadsheets for regional and global every month.”

Renee Smith

Smith joins the group from a 12-year stint overseas in marketing and media professional roles and brings with her a host of experience from media agency, media owner and client side roles.

“A lesson I can give is providing client-side perspective. Agencies need to think outside their bubble in order to be a true business partner, and actually gain a seat at the table with their clients. Advertising and media is only a small piece of the pie, and we need to be thinking broader than this to demonstrate we actually understand their business challenges to provide real solutions.”

Smith, who contracted for the agency before joining full time, is handling one of Stanley St’s new account wins.

To help promote our backyard to Kiwis, Tourism New Zealand has selected Stanley St as its media agency, following the decision to choose Special Group as its creative agency. Both groups are set to help TNZ with one of its biggest tasks to date.

Smith says the biggest task Stanley St and Tourism New Zealand are setting up to fix now is changing the behaviour of Kiwis, who typically don’t travel domestically unless through habit, largely to visit friends and family or stay at the bach.

“Tourism New Zealand, like all of us, are worried about the state of the tourism industry in New Zealand. They’ve realised there is a huge task at hand to get Kiwis travelling locally, so we need to work at changing the behaviour that’s going to inspire Kiwis to be tourists in their own backyard.”

Yet that doesn’t deter the agency or Smith, who says she is excited to be involved with something that has a direct effect on livelihoods, and not just product promotion.

“I’m most excited to be involved with something that matters. That’s why we’re here today driving domestic tourism. Tourism New Zealand brings with them this feel good factor, they’ve got a great purpose here and it’s exciting to be helping them with that, how we can, as a full-service agency.”

This new client, along with Stanley St’s existing portfolio, stands to benefit from their in-house offering. When asked why this new diversification was becoming more important, Reinholds notes it is fundamental to be connected and integrated as an agency.

“Being able to approach the problem completely agnostically and come at it with a diverse set of skills, and you will win every time. The holding company structure is dying because it’s driven by separate P&Ls, and therefore there will be different agendas in the room.

“For us as an agency, we have a journey to go on together. And although we have a long way to go there is massive potential with the existing services here, and the new ones coming in, which will help us diversify and give us a better opportunity to provide a complete solution to whatever the problem is.”

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