‘Yellow’ chocolate man to share Y&R leadership duties

The appointment of James Hurman as managing director has been well signalled.

The man who created "Yellow" chocolate and "auctioned off" his smoking habit is to share leadership responsibilities at Y&R New Zealand.

The appointment of James Hurman as managing director has been well signalled through various leaks, with the agency only confirming the appointment today.

Mr Hurman joined Y&R last week after spending just four months at Ogilvy in Shanghai, a period the 35-year-old describes as his “OE”.

He will “share the leadership duties” with newly appointed executive creative director Josh Moore, a statement issued today says.

“Rather than have a traditional approach with a single CEO in charge of leadership, Josh and I are creative partner and business partner leading the agency,” Mr Hurman told NBR ONLINE.

He has strategy experience from his former planning role in Shanghai and before that was head of planning at ColensoBBDO in Auckland.

The advertising industry’s Big Won Report says Mr Hurman is currently the world’s No 2 strategic planner. He is also author of The Case for Creativity, an internally-renowned book on advertising effectiveness.

His New Zealand campaigns include MacKenzie’s Bread in the Brown Paper bag, Vodafone’s Bestmate and Fold, Yellow’s Treehouse and Chocolate, V’s Rocket Pack and DB Export’s recent relaunch.

“Josh has the creative background. Our vision is to have the business run from a strategic and creative point of view," Mr Hurman says.

"The difference is it means the quality of the work and effectiveness is far more central as opposed to an account service perspective."

Mr Hurman also says their vision is to make Y&R the place for staff to come and do their best work.

“I acknowledge we have a lot of work to do with that. Josh and I are very ambitious for the company. Our mission is to get the work up to a world-class standard. It’s a good to great ambition.” 

Mr Hurman says his new role was worth sacrificing his OE for. Y&R is a global network, with Auckland well placed to draw on the strengths of its Sydney-based sister.

Mr Hurman says he was approached by Y&R Australia/New Zealand CEO Russell Holcroft about the job.


“I had a call from Russell Holcroft. Josh and I have been friends for a very long time. The three of us spoke about the role together.” 

Now, the agency hopes for more of the creativity Mr Hurman is noted for.

Several years ago, as an experiment, he "auctioned" off his smoking habit.

He agreed to pay $1000 for every cigarette he smoked after he "auctioned off" his right to smoke. This sale also raised a donation for the New Zealand Cancer Society.

“It was just an interesting way of getting rid of my smoking habit,” he said.

As he told the Freakonomics blog, the thought of paying such money helped him quit.

“Could it be that when you introduce immediate danger, instead of bothering to consciously rationalise its way around the craving, it just extinguishes the craving.

"The other answer would be that I’m so desperate for my idea to work that I’m talking myself into it!,” he says.

Login in or Register to view & post comments