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The Great Reopening: Robert Harvey of dentsu Aotearoa

After an uncertain and pandemic tainted 2021, New Zealand is now in a phase of transition and recovery. To celebrate this, the country’s largest Out of Home media company, oOh!media, has partnered with StopPress on The Great Reopening. A series focused on New Zealand’s recovery and the return to life OOH.


Next up is Robert Harvey, Chief Executive Officer of dentsu Aotearoa, who says that as New Zealand begins to reopen, a great re-evaluation by brands is required so to remain relevant with changing consumer habits.

What are the emerging trends impacting the ad industry as we approach the great reopening?

I think the great reopening is going to be accompanied by a great re-evaluation. The last couple of years have thrown our society into turmoil, and from this has emerged a re-evaluation of many aspects of our lives – from how and where we work and shop, connect with people, our sense of community, our wellbeing, and our impact in society and on the planet. 

All of these shifting societal trends will have a profound impact on our industry as we guide clients through a new world where consumers have significantly heightened expectations around brands being a force for both growth and good.

How will your clients’ approaches to consumer engagement change this summer with an increase in in-store shopping and socialising?

In the immediate term the lifting of restrictions couldn’t have come at a better time, but as the sugar high of Christmas spending and the summer holidays wears off brands will need to continue to find new ways to build relevance and connect.

As such I don’t so much think it’s a change in approach as a result of summer arriving, but as we emerge out of various states of pandemic restrictions as already mentioned brands will need to look deeply into the role they play in society as being a force for both growth and good. It will no longer be acceptable to have a singular focus on shareholder return.

How do you think the marketing industry will adjust to the new normal? 

Our industry is innately geared for change and it’s our role to build rich human insight, and connect the trends we see in consumers and society with brands, products and services that are relevant and meaningful to people.

Successful marketers in 2022 and beyond will harness the power of these societal shifts and those who do this best will be rewarded with much stronger connections with their consumers. 

How have your marketing/business priorities changed? 

What is clear is that there can be no longer be any disconnect between what a brand promises and what a customer experiences, so we are building dentsu Aotearoa to support our clients with solutions for growth and good that span the entire customer journey.  This isn’t so much a shift but an acceleration of our priorities as we see huge opportunity to support our clients in building more meaningful connections with their consumers, and this requires genuine integration of capabilities on both the agency and client side.

What is also clear is that people will need to remain our primary focus. It’s a tight talent market and all businesses have asked a lot of their teams over the past 24 months. Getting people reconnected, supporting their wellbeing and giving them opportunities for growth are going to be critical to us building successful businesses. Our industry is all about people, and ultimately great talent leads to great work and client partnerships.

How have you been spending your summer of freedom?

I think like everyone, after a relentless couple of years it was great to take some time out to spend with friends and family and enjoy some much needed downtime. We headed out of Auckland to Tairua and Mount Maunganui with most of the time spent at the beach, getting some exercise, and getting around to reading some of the books I didn’t get to in 2021.

2022 is lining up to be a pretty exciting year for dentsu Aotearoa and hopefully our country more broadly, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it this year.


For more on The Great Reopening brought to you by oOh!media, click here.

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