We spoke to the Director of CampaignLab, Andy Scales, about rebranding a South Pacific Island, his favourite interview question, and the possibility of agencies operating seven days per week.You have worked in multiple markets. Is there a creativity deficit when comparing communications campaigns in markets like the UK to Australia?
I think from an ideas perspective Australia is definitely stepping up. It’s no secret that big campaigns require big budgets, and those larger budgets are more prominent in markets like the UK. The UK often acts as the hub for a lot of other European countries, particularly with big agencies, so a lot of creative campaigns come out of that market.
But equally, in Australia you see some large-scale campaigns, as well as brands doing some really great stuff. You only have to look at the PR awards in Asia to see the number of Australian agencies up there being recognised for awards across the APAC region as well as locally.What is the most memorable campaign you have worked on?
The Fuji Island campaign
we launched with Fujifilm a little while back was a really big, audacious campaign. I mean it’s not every day you get to takeover a private island in the middle of Fiji and rebrand it as Fuji Island.
CampaignLab exists to help brands join the conversations their consumers are having. The brief for this campaign was around how we can launch a new camera aimed more at enthusiasts, Instagrammers and bloggers. These people aren’t necessarily reading Photography Weekly
, but they are interested in things like travel, which cuts across the entire photography market. So, developing a campaign like that, where we take genuine insights around travel and people’s interest in travel, then develop something cool like rebranding a private island in the middle of the South Pacific… Yeah, that was a pretty big campaign and one of my favourites. More recently our 5G Hotel campaign for OPPO has been really well received.Post COVID-19, do you think the agency model is going to change?
I think it has changed for the long term and probably for the benefit of the industry. There are agencies that have previously introduced things like four-day work weeks and really flexible working arrangements. Some agencies don’t even have an office. We were very quick to say, “All right, everyone just work from home. We know we can do it.” Flexible working arrangements benefit employees and businesses.
Moving forward, one of the biggest challenges we face is the daily commute. If we do get back to the stage where people are coming back into the office, how is that going to work? It’s okay to set up the office environment where everyone’s in split teams and you’re maintaining social distancing, but it’s the commute, and if you work in Sydney you will know how busy it can get on the buses and trains. Something that will almost certainly come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is flexible start times. Some people are early birds and like to come in early and finish early, and other people want to work later. We might see agencies looking at extending the week for people to work on a Saturday if they choose. There are benefits if you have a six or seven day agency, because there are times when you need to get your head down and work on a big strategy document without the distraction of calls coming in. So, I think elements like that around the flexible working environment are things that will change.CampaignLab is now five years old and you must have interviewed scores of people over the years for positions with the company. What questions do you ask to find the right people?
When I first started CampaignLab and was hiring for entry level roles, I was really interested in the applicant’s experience. How are they immersing themselves in the industry? Are they reading industry titles? Are they looking at brands and campaigns, and are they genuinely, passionately interested in it?
I’ll always ask, “What’s your favourite campaign you’ve seen out in the market?” And it doesn’t have to be a PR campaign. It can be an advertisement, it can be anything. I find the conversation flows from there.How do you personally stay ahead of the curve with new trends and changes in communications?
I’m a bit old school in terms of my mediums. I’m across a lot of the industry sites and am always interested in reading about different creative campaigns. But to stay ahead of the curve, and it changes at a really rapid rate, you have to hire really good people. They have to have a genuine interest in the areas they operate and a desire to always be better than the rest. Our production team are constantly coming to us and saying, “Can we invest and buy this piece of equipment that’s going to enable us to do X, Y, Z through live-streaming?” And then we’ve got the digital marketing team talking about new software and platforms. Having these types of people in our team ensures that we stay ahead of the curve. We almost always say yes.