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New Talent

Meet Some of WPP Australia’s Rising Ad Stars

LBB’s Liam Smith catches up with planners, strategists and more from JWT Sydney and Ogilvy Sydney

Meet Some of WPP Australia’s Rising Ad Stars

There’s no shortage of young Aussie talent shaking things up in adland, and we’ve rounded up a few to give them a chance to shine in the spotlight.

LBB’s Liam Smith chatted with J. Walter Thompson Sydney’s John Tozzi and Carly Yanco and Ogilvy Sydney’s Ola Olorunnimbe, Katharina Vassar and Mikaela Crimmins to find out how they got into advertising and more. 



John Tozzi, Director of Digital Delivery, J. Walter Thompson, Sydney


LBB> How and when did you get into advertising?

John Tozzi> I got some great advice when I graduated from business school at 20 years old that I will never forget. I was told that I was entering the greatest five-year window of my life which seemed backwards to me because I was feeling young, hungry and more importantly scared about what career path I was going to choose. That’s what this time is for and I urge the youngsters out there to take this time to try and fail at as many jobs they can. Even with an Honours Business Degree I worked sweeping houses on construction sites, I processed underwriting claims for marine cargo insurance, I sold credit cards to people face-to-face at petrol stations, I worked in event marketing, and I worked in business development. Point is at the time I felt doomed that I wouldn’t find where I wanted to be but the truth is I stole skills from each one of those jobs to land my first role in digital marketing. I found a passion in that and at 27 years old I landed at J. Walter Thompson Sydney as their director of digital delivery. Everything happens for a reason, try what you can when you can and the rest will take care of itself.


LBB> What's a piece of work that you're most proud of?

JT> I’ve worked on a lot of cool projects in the past which have included $1M website redesigns, iconography rebrands, donation flows for charity clients and creepily good dynamic content campaigns and strategies. Weirdly, the work that I am most proud of is one of internal nature. In November of 2017 I wrote an article about where digital projects fail and why, which can be a tricky problem for a lot of agencies to solve. J. Walter Thompson has really supported the growth of all types of internal education, processes and quality of work specifically in the digital realm. They have allowed me to bring my past experiences into orbit and share that with my team and our other departments. I’m really proud of where we have gotten to and the amazing work we have put out in 2017. Some of my favourite pieces from the year include a content filter for Australian small businesses owners to help them sort useful government grants, tax information and policies. We basically sorted over 1000 pieces of information into a simple filtering exercise. Also, loved working on the Sizzledodge digital kids book for Banana Boat where kids and parents could read a digital version of the book online with sweet little interactions, useful sun safety tips and links to buy more products online.


LBB> How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

JT> A mentor of mine once told me that if you aren’t spending six to eight hours a week learning you are just being irresponsible. I’ve always believed that information is power and that information comes from your ability to learn new things so you can see a problem from a different perspective. This is truly some of the most valuable pieces of advice I have ever received. This doesn’t mean you have to read 15 books a week or take 18 online courses, it means you should go out and learn from experiences. Get involved in your hobbies, get outside of your comfort zone and do things you have never done before. Here’s a super easy way to go do that: Go on Instagram, go to the ‘places’ tag and in the search bar type in all the things you love to do (travel, soccer, music, #sydneyphotography etc) and see what others are doing. Write down 10 per month and go do them all.  This is a great way to keep your mind fresh with new thoughts, new experiences and most importantly new ideas. Be creative in your life and it will easily translate to creativity in your work.


LBB> What do you do outside of work to cool off?

JT> So, here’s the thing. I’m Canadian and as I’m writing this I’ve just been informed by my pet beaver Bruce that its -40 (Celsius) in Toronto right now. So cold in fact that a pot of boiling water would turn to snow if thrown in the air. So cold that you have to plug your car in at night or it won’t start in the morning. So cold that at one point in December Canada was actually colder than Mars (true story). So cold that there were people ice skating to work in the morning…literally. So “cooling down” isn’t exactly what I was looking for anymore, instead now I spend my time collecting memories for all the amazing beaches in Sydney, crashing into people who are way better than me at surfing, seeing some awesome countries this side of the world and taking epic pictures with my drone (which can be seen on instagram @jtozz).

 

Carly Yanco, Planning Director, J. Walter Thompson, Sydney


LBB> How and when did you get into advertising?

Carl Yanco> I fell into it after transferring from a public relations firm in Sydney to its New York counterpart, which happened to have a digital advertising arm in that part of the world. The role evolved from corporate communications to integrated strategy and before I knew it I was in advertising. When I moved back to Sydney I decided to transition more formally and took on a strategy role at J. Walter Thompson. Looking back I really had no idea what I was getting myself into but luckily it’s been going well so far.

 

LBB> What's a piece of work that you're most proud of? 

CY> The work I produce is the thinking that comes before the fun creative people see. I try to find parts to be proud of in all of it; that’s part of the satisfaction in producing something that never sees the light of day beyond client or internal presentations. In saying that, my work contributes to the final product and I’d have to say the work I’m proudest of from the last year is the ‘Katapult’ spot for KITKAT. The thinking behind that has been adopted as part of KITKAT’s global positioning and it was nice to help set the course for the next few years for such an iconic brand. You’d be surprised how much thinking can go on behind the scenes for a block of chocolate! This one was well worth it.


LBB> How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

CY> Shifting gears between clients. Getting some variety between the problems I’m solving, the brands I’m thinking about and the category I’m working within does wonders for me. It’s a quick way to get a little perspective and give my brain some time to work away in the background. Often solutions will come to me out of the blue when I’ve decided to focus on something else entirely.


LBB> What do you do outside of work to cool off? 

CY> The beach and wine…submerging myself in either the ocean or a shiraz seems to do the trick!


Ola Olorunnimbe - Social Media Strategist, Ogilvy Sydney


LBB> How and when did you get into advertising?

Ola Olorunnimbe> In late 2013, towards the end of my International Relations degree, I decided I’d much rather be an adman than a statesman - possibly after too many hours spent watching Mad Men. But this being an extremely late decision, I had no relevant experience. So I spent a cold, wet January day dropping by a shortlist of London agencies with my CV in hand, and that’s how I got my foot in the industry door.


LBB> What's a piece of work that you're most proud of?

OO> Successfully establishing the word ‘Hibernot’ as part of the vernacular of British adventurers. Land Rover UK wanted to develop a campaign that appealed to the modern explorer whilst also reinforcing the brand’s own adventure heritage. We adapted the Hibernot TVC from the previous year to develop a content hub and a corresponding social strategy designed to inspire people to discover the Great British outdoors over winter, a season of hibernation. Over three years on, a Twitter or Instagram search of #Hibernot https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/hibernot/?hl=en still yields numerous user-generated adventure stories and photos.


LBB> How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

OO> By taking in as much of the world as I can, and asking lots of questions about everything.


LBB> What do you do outside of work to cool off? 

OO> I watch TV, read, and listen to podcasts, which is a bit like getting a book beamed straight into your brain. How millennial.

 

Katharina Vassar - Senior Strategist Ogilvy Sydney

LBB> How and when did you get into advertising?

Katharina Vassar> Honestly? It all started in the year 2000 when I watched the movie ‘What Women Want’ with Mel Gibson as an impressionable 12-year-old. Growing up I never had dreams of becoming President, or an astronaut, or a chef, like the other kids, but when I watched this movie, I saw for the first time what I felt would be a dream job! In it, there was a scene where Mel’s character is presenting to a boardroom full of Nike execs, and he transports them all for a short moment with a simple narrative and a killer tagline... and I was hooked. 

I started my journey in this industry in activations, where I loved the pace, pressure, and physical demands. Then moved into branding, where I learned the importance of strategy and rigour and felt challenged in the best way. Then ultimately, I found my way into that ‘dream job’ in advertising I’d seen so many years earlier that has the perfect mix of both pace and intellectual challenges... and it’s a blast.

LBB> What's a piece of work that you're most proud of?

KV> Most definitely it would be one of the BIGGEST ideas we’ve had to pull off, both in scale and in imagination. For the ‘Birdsville’ campaign for KFC, we decided that the best way to prove how great tasting KFC really is, is to experience it through the eyes of someone who either hasn’t had KFC in a very long time, or never had it. So we set out to bring the world’s best tasting fried chicken to the most faraway and secluded place in Australia, to surprise locals in Birdsville, where they host the world’s most remote music festival – The Big Red Bash.

We drove a huge KFC truck nearly 2000 kilometres in the name of reconnecting people with a taste that they’ve gone without for far too long.

LBB> How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

KV> I love documentaries (thanks Netflix!). It’s like that thing in the Matrix where they’d plug in, upload a program, and within minutes you’d acquire a new skill or piece of knowledge. Though I can’t learn karate in three minutes, I love sitting down and getting deep into a completely random subject and learning useless information... whether it’s about true crime, or strong-man competitions, or the riveting sport of competitive tickling.

 

LBB> What do you do outside of work to cool off? 

KV> Having just moved to Sydney from Jakarta, Indonesia I try to take as much advantage of being outdoors as possible. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I have a strong belief that if you live somewhere you can get daily doses of the ocean, it is simply impossible to feel negative! Plop me down somewhere with the sun, water, and a book, and I’m happy as a clam.


Mikaela Crimmins, Digital Strategist, Ogilvy Sydney


LBB> How and when did you get into advertising?

Mikaela Crimmins> My foray into advertising started almost six years ago. I had just completed a combined degree in social research and Indonesian and envisaged myself as a globe-trotting diplomat. Following some woeful interviews (on my part) and countless rejection letters, I quickly realised I needed to expand my limited horizons so applied for an account executive position with a small advertising company. My pimped-out CV featuring WordArt and detailing my illustrious career within hospitality must have worked a treat as I received a call back the week after.


LBB> What's a piece of work that you're most proud of?

MC> I’m proud of Ogilvy’s work with Coke for marriage equality.

There’s three things in life I’m proud of. My friends. My family. And my girlfriend. Last year our relationship was interrogated by literally (I rarely use this word in the right context, but this feels right) the whole country. And when I walked out of our house and saw ‘no’ written in the sky it felt frankly crushing. So, an iconic brand like Coca-Cola adding their weight to our cause and communicating their support on their most valuable assets, the Kings Cross Billboard and their cans restored hope that if a big brand is in our corner then we might just have a few Aussies there too. Working for a company and with clients who act on their convictions makes getting out of bed ever so easier.   

 

LBB> How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

MC> Getting out of the office and out of the bubble, the advertising one. If all else fails, find an Uber driver. They’re a treasure trove of insights.

 

LBB> What do you do outside of work to cool off? 

MC> I play for a local basketball team. And we’re a pretty big deal. You might have heard of them, we’re called Sports Balls. No? We’re in the second division of a local competition in Redfern. There’s nothing like the feel of defeat ten weeks straight to keep you feeling humble.


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