Year in Review: Chris Riley, GroupM New Zealand

Every year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. Here’s what Chris Riley, CEO at GroupM New Zealand, had to say. 

  1. Favourite local campaign

I might be a bit biased as it’s one of our clients, but I loved the new Steinlager campaign – Peace Flotilla.  Whilst it created some consumer debate about what was factual or not during the real Mururoa Protest in 1995, the campaign work itself was brilliant and will hopefully inspire more clients to invest in their most valuable brand assets.

  1. Favourite international campaign

It had to be the work from Apple depicting a team working from home trying to crack a new idea for a client over video calls and chat. Less of a campaign, more of a comedic film full of so many real truths all of us experienced during the lockdown. It’s a full cross section of all workplace personalities. So relatable. Brilliant work.

  1. Pick three words to describe 2020

No sequels please.

  1. Most memorable moment from lockdown?

No single moment, but a series of inspiring moments for me as we watched our teams adapt completely to a fluid situation, whilst still delivering intensive work schedules.  

  1. First thing you did in Level 1?

Assembled a group of mates and went to the pub for a beer!

  1. First place you’ll travel to when borders open?

I’m a big fan of the United States. It’s been sad to watch the pandemic and other social issues unfold there for the last year. I’m not sure I’ll rush back until it’s safe to do so, but will definitely be back for some snow sports and travel.

  1. Heroes of 2020

Whilst there were many people going above their regular call of duty, the heroes for me would have to be the teachers, particularly the ones with young children at home themselves during the first lockdown. I saw firsthand from my son’s teacher how their commitment, energy and overall pastoral care for their class of children continued every day over video calls even when they had their own ‘child-chaos’ underway in the background. Amazing people.

  1. Villains of 2020

2020 was a year when smart companies started playing the long game and doing what they could to hold onto people and support them through a difficult time. Some companies didn’t and used the pandemic as a smoke screen to exit workers en masse. I saw lots of BS reasons given to the media about their restructuring reasons. 

  1. What have you learnt about the world in 2020?

Human life is a fragile thing.

  1. Silver lining of 2020? 

I don’t know the first thing about medicine and science, however the speed at which the world’s science community collaborated, innovated, developed and tested multiple vaccines is simply remarkable. It shows what can be achieved when the world’s smartest minds get behind a problem to solve. It’s super impressive and this collaboration should be harnessed for meaningful advancements in other terrible human diseases. We talk a lot about collaboration as an industry and it really shows what can be achieved when people work together for an outcome.

  1. Best brands of 2020

The ones that really went above and beyond to look after customers during a difficult time. Vodafone was a standout here with a commitment that no one would get disconnected due to bill payment issues. At a time when so many relied on connecting with friends and family online and over the phone it was a human-driven business decision that really set them apart.

  1. Lamest trend of 2020

Feeling the need to send all of your customers that have ever transacted with you an email. Brands that I’ve dealt with, once, years ago, sending me heartfelt messages of how passionately they care about their customers and why I should buy another one of their products. After 10 years, it felt like meaningless communication in a sea of other brands’ heartfelt messages.

  1. Guilty Netflix obsession?

Who didn’t love Joe Exotic and the train wreck Tiger King series. Hard to believe that goes on every day.

  1. Twitter or Instagram?

Instagram for sure. 

  1. What should be uninvented? 

The word pivot.

  1. What’s the biggest mistake advertisers will make in 2021? 

Our focus for our clients is Intelligent Imagination. Using data, insight and creativity to grow our clients businesses. We hope the biggest mistake advertisers do not make is to discard quality marketing theory and bold distinctive, creative ideas in favour of quick short term, low risk (and mostly low return) homogeneous clutter.

Year in Review is brought to you by Discovery New Zealand.

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