Creativity is always the answer

As New Zealand’s largest employer and most significant investor in the advertising and marketing services sector, Clemenger Group and its CEO Jim Gall, take their responsibility incredibly seriously to not only support and sustain the local industry, but also to ensure their agencies deliver work that helps their clients’ brands compete in a global context.

NZ MARKETING: Why is creativity crucial to the NZ economy? What is your role in this? What does it mean for the future of work?

JIM GALL: It’s generally agreed that the creative economy spans many different sectors, including the advertising industry – which on its own contributes more than $6 billion to the NZ economy.

Jim Gall

Being a net exporter, New Zealand must remain at the cutting edge of creativity and innovation in order to build value in the country’s brands beyond our borders. It’s why we frequently talk about producing work that is ‘world famous in New Zealand’.

Our ambition for New Zealand is that we put creativity at the heart of everything we do to give New Zealand businesses a competitive advantage. Looking towards the future, we must ask how we build the skills to allow us
to deliver the highest value outcomes; how we create an environment where creatives deliver world-class work and how strategists can solve world-scale issues.

We must deliver authentically on the experiences that go beyond the traditional advertising channels to reach today’s consumers, whose expectations are now higher than ever.

We are always looking at how our agencies can best share their expertise and wide range of resources with other agencies in the group. This enables us to leverage all the data, technology and media expertise they offer, to create experiences that influence our clients’ customers, on their individual timelines.

As we look towards other aspects of the future of work, privacy and security of information is only going to become more important. This is a major area of focus for us at Clemenger Group, and we are the first group of marketing and communications agencies in New Zealand to undertake ISO 27001 information security accreditation. This provides clients and the community at large with absolute confidence that we meet a world-class standard for managing, holding and deciphering their data.

The future, exciting and uncertain, will always require flexible and unique solutions to inevitable challenges. In our minds, creativity will always provide us, and our clients, with the answers.

NZ MARKETING: What is the Clemenger difference? How are your people invested in your clients’ success?

JIM GALL: When you own a share of the company, like many of our people do, you are more strongly motivated to deliver the best outcomes for your clients and colleagues. Clemenger Group is 26 percent owned by our people and 74 percent owned by BBDO.

This structure motivates our people to always strive to make the work better; to be invested in our client relationships; and to evolve our offer to meet the always dynamic marcomms, research, technology and media landscapes.

This local proprietorial culture, coupled with global scale (i.e. $4B in revenues and 15,000 deeply specialised people), enables our group agencies to have access to the right people, with the right skills to solve the right problem.

I like to think of the Clemenger Group as ‘New Zealand’s biggest indie’. Our ownership model means everyone is invested in the success of our business, clients, work and each other. As we celebrate our 50th year in New Zealand, via Colenso BBDO, we continue to invest in and lead the creativity economy in New Zealand.

NZ MARKETING: There is a renewed focus on attracting and developing the best talent in the business with your graduate programme, with ambitious goals. Why is this important and necessary?

JIM GALL: We’re operating in a world where talent is getting harder to attract, at a time when New Zealand organisations need intelligent creativity more than ever.

As we grapple with how to win attention and cut-through in an environment where we’re bombarded with information every minute of the day, we know we need to foster sharp minds and creative genius.

Being New Zealand’s largest group of marketing and advertising agencies, we feel we have a duty and need to work on doing more, as does the whole industry, to create opportunities and pathways to enter the advertising and associated marketing services industries.

Our Board recently agreed that we could, and should do, more. We set ourselves some clear goals to find and train the next generation of creative minds. We want to attract the best people to our industry and will be working more closely with universities to ensure graduates are better prepared for our changing world.

Our new graduate programme will arm some outstanding young hopefuls with invaluable industry skills and experience.
It is also one of the many dimensions of our diversity initiatives which encompass gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, ethnicity. Our graduate programme is an example of actions we are taking to improve diversity across our group and in the work we produce, which helps influence the attitudes of New Zealanders.

This year we opened 13 places in our graduate programme, as well as multiple internships, most notably with Tupu Toa, as well as other initiatives.

Today’s world requires even more innovation, forward-thinking creatives, and academics who will help to re-shape the advertising space and revitalise it with fresh ideas.

The graduates we work with will be entering an industry that contributes more than $6 billion to the local economy, almost 8 percent of the nation’s GDP, and an industry that represents more than 7 percent of the country’s workforce.

There is a huge amount of competition these days for the best talent and, given New Zealand’s low unemployment rate, there are many options – in consultancy and other professional services businesses.

As a business, we represent the biggest brands in New Zealand. In many ways, the work we do shapes popular culture. We take it upon ourselves to represent the diverse view of New Zealand and in order to do this, we need to attract a broad range of the best talent.

NZ MARKETING: What is Clemenger doing around diversity and inclusion? What should the industry be doing? Why is this a focus now?

JIM GALL: Diversity and inclusion are a critical part of who we are as a business now and in the future.

As an industry, we should be working together to ensure that everyone feels safe to be themselves at work and have the same opportunities to thrive regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity or physical abilities.

For our clients at Clemenger Group, and for our place in the New Zealand community, having a diverse team that brings broad thinking, backgrounds and experiences to our work will mean better, more effective work. It’s also the right thing to do. We are far from perfect and there’s much to be done, but there is a strong desire within all our agencies to acknowledge where we can do better, make changes and introduce new initiatives.

In 2019, we made great progress and are proud to have completed Rainbow Tick training across all agencies, and to support NZ AIDS Foundation through the annual World AIDS Day fundraising – being the top corporate fundraiser for the second year in a row.

Tupu Toa’s internship programme has been introduced to our agencies, providing opportunities to Maori or Pasifika students who will bring their cultures, experience and perspectives to our agencies.
Diversity Works is a great network for businesses and the industry to look towards for guidance in this space. Joining them has enabled us at Clemenger Group to tap into their specialist experience.

In 2020, our focus will be on setting the vision and on initiatives focused on five main areas: gender, LGBTQIA+, age, ethnicity and disability. We are ambitious about what we can achieve. For example, we will be aiming for a 50 percent gender balance across key management personnel and graduates making up five percent of our workforce by 2023.

NZ MARKETING: You have a focus on sustainability, including a new sustainability practice. How does this differ from other agencies? What does it mean for clients?

JIM GALL: Porter Novelli NZ and Clemenger Group’s sustainability practice is directly addressing a business need and trend that will only continue to gather momentum in New Zealand and across the globe.

Sustainability encompasses not just the environment, but the social and economic impact of clients, and our offer reflects this.
It has become mainstream for businesses and other organisations in New Zealand. Sustainability is not an after-thought. It’s central to purpose and strategy. Of course, sustainability starts at home – two of our agencies, Colenso BBDO and Porter Novelli, are members of the Climate Leaders Coalition, and our sites are certified by Toitu- Envirocare.

The ‘In Good Company’ research report that our agencies, Porter Novelli NZ and Perceptive, undertook with the Sustainable Business Council shows that Kiwis want business to contribute positively to society, beyond their profit motive. Sustainability is increasingly informing purchase decisions. Employees want to work for organisations that have a purpose that they identify with. Shareholders are increasingly asking about environmental, social and cultural risk. Our specialised, leading sustainability practice works with clients to strengthen and develop their sustainability programme and share this with their audiences and stakeholders.

NZ MARKETING: How do you go about shaping popular culture? What does this mean for New Zealanders? Why does it matter?

JIM GALL: As a business, we represent some the biggest brands in New Zealand. In many ways, the work we do shapes popular culture. We communicate with Kiwis on a day-to-day basis, thousands of people listen to and see our clients’ campaigns, use their products and engage with their brands.

Our work is engrained in Kiwi pop culture, and it is so important that we take it upon ourselves to represent the diverse people of New Zealand.

Having a team from a broad range of backgrounds allows us to create empathetic work that relates to different communities effectively. For example, Colenso BBDO’s recent work with BNZ to engage with the Chinese community around their Lunar New Year, and Clemenger BBDO’s ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ campaign with the Human Rights Commission.

NZ MARKETING: What are data and technology bringing to the business? Why have you created the role of a chief intelligence officer?

JIM GALL: Leveraging intelligence, both customer and market, to help our clients connect with their customers in new ways
and on deeper levels has been critical in helping our clients and agencies lead in today’s highly fragmented, competitive and digitised economy.

This vision was a key factor in our decision to create our first ever group chief intelligence officer role to ensure there was appropriate governance and momentum around becoming more data-driven, experience-obsessed, technology-enabled and more agile in our approach.

Chris Pescott, the founder of our intelligence and research agency Perceptive, was the ideal person for this role. The agency he created
was acquired by the Group in 2017 and has become a vital part of driving deep insight and intelligence across our three major agencies in Colenso BBDO, 99 and Clemenger BBDO.

The talented and driven team at Perceptive are quickly helping our creative businesses better connect their creativity via automation, increase their understanding of AI, how to operate the software, handle the analytics and decipher the data science that creates an insightful foundation for their work.

Chris has been instrumental in helping us to build a culture of constant optimisation, analysing the data and insights by building shared resource from our 1:1 business JustOne and via Perceptive.

It’s not only about the technology or deeply specialised skill sets either. Chris’s team have developed hybrid business management teams and operating models that are multi-skilled in media, MarTech and customer experience.

Using carefully crafted consultancy principles, an aggressive recruitment strategy and a comprehensive capability building programme, our intelligence and technology capabilities within the Group are quickly becoming world class

For more information visit www.clemenger.co.nz

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