“Why aren’t you moving to Aussie?”

Having made the decision to return to New Zealand after a long time spent working in advertising abroad, my colleagues and clients had difficulty understanding why I was choosing not to move to Sydney.

Months before “the best job in the world” competition grabbed the headlines, it seemed that Australia had already captured the imagination as the location where you could have the best job in the world (in advertising) and have a good work/life balance.

But I wasn’t going to Australia, I was bound for Aotearoa.

After an absence of 22 years (the last 15 being spent in Hong Kong), I was thrilled to be heading to a new advertising role in NZ, specifically as a senior member of the TBWA group of companies.  My 30- second elevator pitch for “Why NZ” was getting pretty smooth by the time I got on the plane for that last long-haul flight.

It’s about the quality of the creative and the bravery of local brands.

Of course, a better lifestyle for a young family was what started me thinking about the move in the first place, but what clinched the deal was how fresh and unconstrained the creative output could be.

As an experienced “suit”, I knew from sitting through my first credentials presentation in NZ that the creative thinking and execution I saw coming out of Auckland was on par with anything being pitched that day in London or New York.

The scale and diversity of large markets (I’m thinking Asia and the US here) and the creative conservatism that comes from trying to please too many audiences all the time makes for a lot of trailing-edge advertising.

Whereas the disruptive thinking I saw in NZ, made me take notice of many brands and what they had to say.

As an outsider looking in, it reintroduced me to how advertising is popular culture and not just background noise of me-too sales messages.

The next time you feel at a disadvantage because London or New York say they are working on an unbeatable idea – challenge them.

My early experiences having recently returned back here leads me to believe that we’re a whole heap better than we often give ourselves credit for.

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