NZ ad agency starts office in Australia, pinches two top creatives

In New Zealand most job providers in the advertising industry are well-established international networks with parent companies in Australia.

The shoe is presently on the other foot thanks to New Zealand indie agency Special Group, which has announced the appointment of two globally renowned creatives following the startup of its Sydney office earlier in the year.

TBWA Sydney executive creative directors Dave Bowman and Matty Burton will join Special Group Australia in its Sydney office in November.

They saw their current agency double in size and revenue and picked up 19 new business pitches.

Special Group NZ managing partner Michael Redwood says the two creatives are “tremendous global talent” and will help with client services in New Zealand.

Special Group announced the startup of its Sydney premises in June with the appointment of Lindsey Evans as chief executive.

It is early days but the start-up has already won several new clients in a stream of competitive pitches including Red Bull, Paspaley, Marcs, Ecostore and Adoption Awareness.

Mr Redwood says this is a unique occurrence for New Zealand advertising agencies.

“Usually we’re [NZ] on the tail end of international networks and this is the start of something else."

He says New Zealand agencies have unsuccessfully tried this in the past but have failed because they try to manage too much from across the ditch.

"We don’t believe you can set up a ‘branch.’ You need a full focused and resourced self sufficient unit on the ground if we are going to achieve the kind of major impact we’re planning," he says.

"Special Group NZ will always be majority shareholder, with a large minority allocated to the Australian management team to provide a real motivation to succeed."

However, Mr Redwood would not comment specifically on the numbers of shares in the company.

The new Sydney office has six people working in the office, increasing to eight when Mr Bowman and Mr Burton join.

The agency has already produced some work – a campaign for Paspaley featuring Australian actress Teresa Palmer.

Special Group NZ has a roster of 30 clients including 2Degrees mobile, Smirnoff, Red Bull, AA Insurance, TSB Bank, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Unitec, Ecostore and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.