303 MullenLowe’s Matt Oakley – 100 days

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303 MullenLowe’s Matt Oakley – 100 days

By Matt Oakley, Chief Strategy Officer at 303 MullenLowe.


It’s been a few months since arriving in Perth to take on the newly created role of Chief Strategy Officer at 303 MullenLowe Perth. About 100 days since I packed up my life – and my family – to move across the world to join a new team, live in a new city and learn what makes local brands, and this great agency tick.

And what I’ve discovered is both exciting and challenging, both at a professional and personal level.

Firstly, since arriving at 303 MullenLowe Perth, part of my acclimation process has been trying to understand the challenges facing brands in Australia, and what might be keeping businesses up at night. Unsurprisingly, they’re not too different to those faced by marketing and brand leaders I’ve been fortunate to work with across many other continents.

The need to prove the value of marketing and brand building in the face of ever-changing consumer needs, a revolution in the way that brands are consumed, and industry complexity as to how best to maximise returns has meant there is unprecedented scrutiny to work smarter, deliver results, maintain relevance, and continue to move forward. This is true, whatever the brand. Whatever the category. Whatever the continent.

This can sometimes put pressure on marketing leaders to take on more, and produce more. Naturally, my mind has been turning toward the fact that if capacity is an issue, what capability could be being missed out on? And what skills do agencies have that can be utilised to ensure businesses can evolve?

There are two superpowers that agencies have of their own, that are definitely not in short supply both in Australia, and more locally in Perth. These are Objectivity and Creativity.

Objectivity in the form of being able to look at business problems with an unencumbered view. No historical baggage. No day-to-day stakeholder comms. And the ability to remove emotion from their decision making. Once we have a shared understanding of goals, we can also share responsibility for success, but ultimately our starting points are very different. And because we have the ability to flex to whatever the business need is, our interaction can either take the shape of a full project brief, or simply a regular triage where we sit down – almost like a Non Executive Director would in our world – and take stock of where we are now, where we’re heading, and what’s standing in the way of us getting there.

When I talk of creativity, it’s about being able to look beyond traditional marketing levers as a starting point to solve business problems. If there’s one thing that agencies have in abundance, it’s creativity. And I’ve been heartened to see it’s also in abundance here in Perth.

As market conditions continue to tighten across the world, this puts us in an incredible position to help businesses, governments and the not-for-profit sector reach audiences in new and creative ways.

As for personal observations, I’ve found a city that has an incredibly benevolent outlook toward furthering the cause of the industry and nurturing the next generation of talent. Within 48 hours of stepping off the plane I was thrust into the Oasis Ball, which was a celebration of the industry quite unlike anything I’ve seen in the UK.

And Mel Vella at the Ad Council of Australia has kindly welcomed me and put me to work across a number of initiatives which has been a great way to meet new and interesting people.

Talking of which, 303 Mullen Lowe have been great in terms of integrating me into the business. I’ve been seriously impressed by the quality of creativity and thinking and although the market conditions are challenging across the industry right now, I’m excited about how our new line up, approach and perspective on brands is resonating with clients.

Now all I need is for the sun to come out. All this rain and cold* is far too reminiscent of home!

*PS. This is not cold!

303 MullenLowe’s Matt Oakley – 100 days 303 MullenLowe’s Matt Oakley – 100 days