3 October 17

Is creativity a strategic priority in your business? Cannes Insights Series

At our recent Cannes insights session, we asked some of Australia’s leading PRs and marketers, “Is creativity a strategic priority in your business?”  On the surface this appears to be a relatively simple question, but as we discovered from our subsequent discussion, prioritising creativity within an organisation varies considerably. The conversations provided us with a strong insight into the reality of marketing in Australia and what the future holds for commercial creativity.

Within many businesses, marketing departments are under pressure to deliver a strong return on investment for their brand, most predictably in hard sales figures. Others in the discussion group reported a strong backing for creative thinking that could help reframe the brand or amplify its over-arching business strategy.

Gaia Grant from the University of Sydney’s Business School, highlighted the pressure on businesses to maintain creativity within their organisation: “We were all kids once, and we all had that creative potential as a child,” she said. “But something happens in our life spans and as adults and we seem to lose that creative thinking. Creativity is a life skill and it’s something we need to develop throughout our lifetime. You can’t have innovation without the ability to think creatively.[1]

The “something” that Ms Grant refers to can be a myriad of factors, summed up by our network within our discussion groups.  Pressure to report hard data on the basis of campaigns, coupled with a sometimes cynical attitude towards creativity and what it can provide for the business. Creativity cannot be simply seen as a strategic priority within a business, it needs to be baked within the business’ DNA.  An organisation will only move successfully creatively, if it is led from the top.

 “Fearless Girl” was created by asset managers, State Street. In cold hard terms, State Street’s modus operandi is to make their clients’ funds profitable. Yet, as an organisation they felt strongly that companies in the financial sector didn’t have a strong enough female representation, and created a bold creative statement that completely reframed their business with their statue. It can change and totally reframe a business’ reputation and standing within their sector.

A Cannes Lion is a powerful recognition of creativity in itself, but as we discovered from our respondents at our insights session, it can provide a vibrant touchstone of what is possible for a business when creativity becomes a strategic priority.

[1] https://www.cmo.com.au/article/579823/why-creativity-puts-magic-marketing-leadership/

 

25 September 17

WINNER: Consultancy of the Year, 2017 SABRE Awards

We were as pleased as punch to take home the metal for Australasian Consultancy of the Year at the SABRE Awards in Hong Kong last week.

Herd MSL is a broad church, encompassing Fuel Communications (famous for all things consumer PR), as well as our sister brands, N2N (covering B2B, tech and government relations) and finally, Touch Creative, our content marketing and social media specialists. 

With the competition having been stiff, and with the Herd MSL umbrella brand being less than a year old, we were particularly proud to be recognised in this way. 

Herd MSL CEO, Vanessa Liell said: “We’re excited to be named Australasian Consultancy of the Year 2017.  This is a remarkable time for Herd MSL – our work continues to be brave, innovative and goes to the very heart of communications.”

The gong is the first metal for the agency since being acquired by Publicis Communications in July 2017. 

18 September 17

Fortune favours the brave – creative lessons from Cannes

Last month we hosted an insights session in our office on the recent Cannes Lions, giving us an opportunity to welcome our network across Sydney to discuss creative lessons from the Côte d’Azur.

At their best, a Cannes Lion award represents creatively outstanding work that provides value for the consumer and client. As ever, the competition is steep and creative agencies across the world are setting the bar even higher in terms of what can be achieved for their brands.

A painter synonymous with the French Riviera Henri Matisse once said “creativity takes courage” when describing his process in painting. Similarly, the award winning campaigns at Cannes this year showed consistent bravery that ultimately delivered results for the brands in question.

Fearless Girl

“Fearless Girl” the iconic statue that was installed in New York’s Wall Street, by asset manager State Street highlighted a lack of diversity in boardrooms across America. The statue became more than a symbol, the Boston based company followed through on its pledge to vote against companies that don’t have women on their boards of directors. There was considerable bravery involved creating a memorable statue in a city that had only a handful of female statues. There were detractors, not only in the media, but also within Wall Street, but by using “Fearless Girl”, State Street were able to create a strong brand promise on diversity within a traditionally male dominated industry.

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4 September 17

What can an amateur football club teach professional clubs about fan engagement?

There’s a UK-based football club that attracts over 1 million views for its YouTube videos and has hundreds of thousands of followers across social media. That’s pretty impressive for a club that was founded in 2016 but even more impressive given it’s a club made up of amateurs, not professional players.

The club is called Hashtag United and was set up by football YouTuber Spencer Owen. With an online reach that rivals many of the major UK professional football teams, the club’s online success shines a light on the changing expectations of sports fans.

One of the reasons the videos posted Hashtag United are so engaging is because they follow the journey of everyday amateur players. Players that have a passion for the sport but also juggle full-time jobs and family life. That’s a far cry from many of the UK football stars – some of whom fill social media with posts from glamorous parties and holidays.

Although it’s too early to tell whether the glamorous lives of professional football players has caused everyday fans to become disengaged with the game in a significant way, major brands aren’t willing to place all their focus on the big end of town. Coca-Cola and Umbro are just some of the names that have sponsored Hashtag United.

In many ways, the online success of Hashtag United shouldn’t be a surprise. We know people like connecting to and engaging with people that are like them or do the same things as them. The latter certainly explains why celeb gossip sites are filled with famous faces filling their cars with petrol and shopping in the supermarket.

Maybe there’s a lesson there for more professional football players. While images of fast cars and houses might get the eye-balls online perhaps what fans really want from their players is content they can relate to. Content that shows a passion for sport, their banter with team mates and anything else that shows deep down the players are not that different to the fans that follow them.

28 August 17

When do you make time for creativity?

It’s not always easy in the world of comms to slow down and reflect but a creativity breakfast we put on last week provided the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Hosted at the HERD MSL offices in Sydney, we were joined by over 50 communications leaders to discuss and debate some of the most creative and impactful work from this year’s Cannes Lions.

During the session we shared a number of trends and examples of campaigns we admired this year.  More on that to come but for now I’ll leave you with some work we did for the Australian Hearing that earlier this month was shortlisted at the Sabre APAC Awards.

 

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18 August 17

Where do great campaign ideas come from?

Ideas for communications campaigns can come from anywhere, but unearthing those ideas can often take a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. So what if I told you that your next big award-winning, product-selling, awareness-shifting campaign might be right under your nose?

At Cannes this year some of the work that impressed us the most was work that reacted to or built-upon something that has already happened in the ‘outside world.’

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3 July 17

The Herd Agency joins Publicis Communications

At Herd, we’ve experienced plenty of change over the years but we’ve always stayed focused on what matters to us:

  • Winning and executing technically brilliant work for our clients
  • Building great careers for our ambitious, talented team
  • Pushing ourselves and our clients creatively and strategically
  • Having an impact on our industry and in the market
  • Maintaining and building a culture we’re proud of

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14 February 17

The Future of PR: What It Looks Like & How You Can Be Part of It

“It is about understanding your client, providing sound counsel, issues preparedness, account management, business and financial acumen – those things are never going to change.” – Fergus Kibble

 

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a panel of four leaders in the PR industry to hear them outline what the future of Public Relations looks like, and offer advice to the next generation of practitioners.

The panelists were Jason Carnew, National GM at Haystac Francesca Boase, MD at Edelman Australia, Fergus Kibble, founder and MD at FORWARD Agency PR, and Craig Badings, Partner at SenateSHJ. Let’s see what they had to say.

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16 January 17

The importance of being mentored

“No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.” ― Malcolm GladwellOutliers: The Story of Success

Re-reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers over the Christmas break, I was struck by the idea that people very rarely, if ever, achieve greatness in isolation.

If you’re anything like me the idea of being a lone wolf, a self-sufficient individual with no need for guidance or counsel, has a certain appeal. Walking through life like Clint Eastwood in A Fist Full of Dollars, poncho-clad with a cigarillo between my teeth.

The reality is that we all need help, at times. We all need guidance. Rather than a sign of weakness or inability, history has shown that the ability to confide in others and seek counsel actually makes people successful.

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8 December 16

On quotable quotes

Bravo to Adelaide Bank general manager Damian Percy for my favourite quote of this week, found in the Australian Financial Review and Realestate.com.au. It starts off usual enough:

“The number of Australian first-home buyers decreased by 6.7 per cent during the quarter, to 21,825 — a decline of 5.8 per cent compared to the September quarter 2015 and the lowest figure recorded since ABS records began.”

Then we hit the jackpot:

“To give this some sense of perspective, the number of first-home buyers for the quarter has dwindled to a figure now equivalent to the number of lions believed to be left in the wild.”

In a day where multiple organisations would have been adding their opinions or voices, it’s the best data and lions lines which win the day.

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