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Digitas Drives Business Success with a Creative Vision


GM Simon Brock tells LBB’s Esther Faith Lew why a single-agency model will unify capabilities and accelerate growth

Digitas Drives Business Success with a Creative Vision

“Australian brands waste about AU$4 billion on ineffective marketing channels and strategies,” says Digitas GM Simon Brock, who was recently promoted from his ECD role. “They buy media placements they can’t measure. They spam audiences with content unworthy of their time. They invest in marketing technologies without the culture and skills to use them. And their data can’t be trusted. As a result, they create disconnected digital landfill.”

On a positive note, brands in Australia and New Zealand are starting to open their eyes to reality, and are actively looking for partners who can help them to navigate the digital playground in a cohesive manner. “That’s the kind of agency we become when we unify our deep capabilities in creativity, data, media, strategy and technology across our offices in ANZ,” says Simon.

In August, Digitas had announced key promotions as it moved towards a unified single-agency model across Australia and New Zealand. It was a big move that saw four key people taking on expanded roles in the agency. Simon shared it was a move that reflected the agency’s state of readiness to take advantage of new opportunities to better meet client expectations. 

He says, “The shifts we’ve recently announced for our creative team are significant, but they were also orchestrated and designed to happen in-sync. All four of us have been with the business for a number of years, all at different stages of our careers, all eager to grow. 

“We’ve spent the last six months aligning that growth – Tom McMullan (CD) increasingly being a leading creative voice in the agency; Hannah Melanson (ACD) expanding her remit beyond copywriting duties; Oliver Ree (Associate Design Director) leading projects for a broader range of clients; and myself taking on responsibilities that sit outside a typical ECD job description. 

“It’s been more like a cross-fade than the flick of a switch, and it’s one that’s prepared our business, and our creative team, for a bigger and better 2023.”

Seamless Client Service Across Borders

With growth being the operative word, Simon emphasises that this year, Digitas is back to double-digit growth, which correlates with “50% higher staff engagement, 40% lower attrition and exciting new opportunities to make meaningful work”. “Accelerating and sustaining that growth is my number one, two and three priority,” he adds.

Importantly, it will mean significant changes in the way Digitas interacts with its clients. Working seamlessly across Australia and New Zealand will optimise talent capabilities across borders. “It means a brand like McDonald’s Australia can benefit from the 15 years of experience we have in delivering personalised, one-to-one comms for Countdown New Zealand. Or a brand like Westpac New Zealand can leverage the five years of experience we have in elevating CX for Tourism Australia.  

“This year, nine of our top 10 Australian-based clients have leveraged multi-office teams, and we expect that will be 100% this time next year – unlocking better impact for our clients, and broader opportunities for our people, says Simon.

Going from ECD to GM, Simon approaches his new role with the same outlook he has always had as an ECD - with “a sh*t ton of enthusiasm and optimism”. “Leadership is about deciding what you do and you don’t focus your energy on; it’s also about helping others to determine the same.” He explains, “Success in either role depends on a constant evaluation and re-evaluation of what to commit my energy to. I have three lists: ‘To delegate’, ‘To do fast’, ‘To do well’.” 

Having led the agency’s creative offerings since 2016, Simon hands over the day-to-day management of the creative team to Tom, while he continues to operate in the ECD role alongside GM responsibilities. Simon’s creative background stands him in good stead to lead well as a business leader. He cited a 2010 survey by IBM – and others – that showed the number one trait global CEOS look for in a business leader is creativity. 

“We know that it’s the storytelling and problem-solving skills creatives possess that can have the biggest impact on businesses. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to this new GM role – to grow our people and our business using the same skills I use to grow our clients and their brands,” Simon concludes.

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Digitas Sydney, Wed, 12 Oct 2022 06:49:17 GMT