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An Australian Alliance: Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick Australia Celebrate One Year of Integrating Disciplines


Vinny Panchal and Helen Graney discuss how combining brand experience and communication is the solution to meet market demand in 2023 and beyond

An Australian Alliance: Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick Australia Celebrate One Year of Integrating Disciplines

What happens when a brand experience agency collides with a communications network? The answer is an innovative agency alliance, delivering brand storytelling in an exciting way and delivering extraordinary results. Lifting the curtain on this unique collaboration, LBB learns how the teams work together to tackle one of the biggest challenges any business faces today: how to thrive in an attention-deficit world.

After coming together under one roof in early 2021, the Australian operations of Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick have spent the last 18 months carefully evolving their business, creating a people-first culture, celebrating the agency brands with a local Australian twist and prioritising ideas across all its disciplines.

As a leader in the brand experience space, Jack Morton specialises in experiential marketing. Their work can be seen (and felt) by audiences worldwide. Whether it's the latest FIFA World Cup activation for Adidas, a global all-hands for McDonald's, or Stephen Colbert's set on the Late Show, Jack Morton’s experiences are rich in content and deliver brand-proof at every moment.

Weber Shandwick is a critically acclaimed agency for delivering in-culture communications. Known for putting Barbie on the cover of Time magazine to drive conversations on body positivity, they’ve also designed supermarkets in Sweden where each product was priced by its impact on the environment. Weber Shandwick work at the intersection of technology, society, policy, and media, helping brands to not only contribute to culture but actively shape it. 

“The move to becoming an affiliate partner in Australia allows us to have the best of both worlds – the agility and growth opportunities of a local agency with the backing of two of the world's leading marketing services brands,” explains Helen Graney, CEO of Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick Australia. “We want our work to contribute to a higher purpose, and contribute to the world at large. By bringing brand experience and communications together, underpinned by a centralised strategy and creative team, we can do that and solve our clients’ biggest challenges.”

Working with Helen to deliver this strategy is Vinny Panchal. As group managing director across the agencies, Vinny acts as a strategic partner for clients, as well as a business leader for the team. “As an ideas-led alliance, we centralised our creative team to help our subject matter experts on the front line do what they do best - deliver strategic counsel across Comms and Experiences,” says Vinny. “To push our craft to the next level, ideas must be at the heart of everything we do. So, our restructure focused on designing a model that prioritises creativity and collaboration.”

The convergence of these two distinct disciplines has seen the company forge new ground. By leaning into the respective strengths of both agencies, the company identifies the right platforms and media environments for content to shine. The results, as the agencies’ work shows, are extraordinary.

Evolved Experiences Meets Culturally Impactful Comms

For Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick Australia, human experience informs the work - not automated alternatives. “We’re people-led and don’t use technology for the sake of it. We’re creating experiences that reflect and complement the way people live, work and play,” explains Vinny. “Technology is an enabler of the message and an enhancer of the experience, which in turn becomes an engine for content that can be easily amplified. Ultimately, like the root of the word, it’s part of the art, skill and delivery but it is not the engagement itself.” 

The alliance helps clients carve out a place in a saturated media landscape through carefully thought-out conversations that create movements, build advocacy, and develop loyalty. In 2022, the teams used this framework to deliver several successful campaigns for clients including Google, Kmart, Telstra, Moderna, and ServiceNow. The team also launched a series of programs tailored at driving demand for the likes of and Pinterest, all of whom have partnered with the agencies exclusively in Australia. 

A recent project which demonstrates the power of its experience and communications model is 'The Cool Room’ for BWS, a content-driven, experiential-first campaign supported by in-culture PR that brought together BRING Universal, Spotify, Carat and M&C. “We worked with BWS and Bring to deliver a fully integrated music campaign with BROODS and Client Liaison, hosting live gigs in cool rooms, capturing content for those unable to attend, and shouting about it from the rooftops through PR.”. Both disciplines were working hand in hand to create content that would not only be shared but talked about too. 

Putting People First

When hearing from Helen and Vinny about the success of the alliance’s work, what shines through clearly from both leaders is the importance of being laser-focused on attracting and retaining the best talent. “While we worked hard on our model, we always remembered that it all begins and ends with our people. Without them, we would be a company in name only,” says Helen.

On a global level, the advertising industry has for some time been grappling with a shortage of talent due to extremely competitive salary expectations in adjacent industries, and a drive towards flexible and freelance work culture. However, this has been felt particularly strongly in Australia. In June 2022, Media i’s biannual industry survey reported that ‘churn in Australia’s media agencies and media owners has nearly doubled over the past year to record levels. In May 2021, just 23% of agency staff and 15% of media owner employees had been in their role less than 12 months’ and by June 2022, they reported that those figures sat at a whopping 41% and 29% respectively.

But for Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick Australia, the staff turnover in 2022 sat at an astoundingly low 5%. Helen tells us this was no mean feat - “It took almost 100% of our focus this year. We built our EVP, reviewed how we want to roll that out culturally, and thought non-stop about what we can offer people to make their lives better.” 

The key to this, Vinny explains, is balance: “Giving our people the permission to make the decisions that are right for them - and in turn for the business - has delivered some excellent results.”

The pair hints at some exciting account wins as a result of this approach including Canva, one of Australia's biggest tech unicorns, as they help deliver their most ambitious brand experiences to date. They will also soon announce a specialised local offering led by some of the industry's best upcoming talent.

Amidst a backdrop of change and churn, it seems that in bringing together the worlds of experience and communications is a strategy which has found its moment. For the Australian operations of Jack Morton and Weber Shandwick, and their clients, the future looks clearer - and more exciting - than ever before. 

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Jack Morton Australia, Wed, 08 Feb 2023 00:40:44 GMT