The Imposterous Brent Smart knows the world’s most efficient machine for killing ideas is a Corporation, that’s why he joined one
This week’s guest has jumped the fence, though after speaking to Brent Smart ‘leapt’ feels more appropriate. Brent has spent 20 years in the ad business, rising to CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New York, having previously run New Zealand’s Agency of the Decade, Colenso. But now Brent builds brands from the inside, and as CMO has taken NRMA to third strongest brand in Australia (it was 36th when he started) and is now the strongest insurance brand in the world.
Brent has the honour of being the first CMO to join us for a chat on The Imposterous and we’re all the better for it. He believes fervently in the vital distinction between giving a client what they want, as opposed to what they need. ‘Need’ is much harder, but if you have the vision, POV and certainty, he’ll back you all the way.
Because Brent Smart is a rare breed of marketer – equal parts creative and commercial. In our conversation we talk how any client can buy time, it’s called a fee. But, as anyone who knows how it actually works, the real value comes outside of that time – it comes when you’re walking the dog, or squeezing a shampoo bottle, or walking back from the bar…it’s this ‘discretionary effort’ that makes the magic. In order to get that, client and agency both have to inspire each other with a singular, authentic vision of where you are trying to get to.
And Brent knows how to spot a fake – it’s not down to talent or experience, it’s simply someone who doesn’t care. Because in order to be a great creative you need one thing above all else – an opinion. When it comes to the crunch, in judging the work in a pitch or a presentation, forget the brief, they just set things going and are often wrong. People hide behind briefs all too often. Instead start with your gut – how does the work make you feel? Follow that and you’ll get to better work a lot faster.
With a track record of changing the fortunes of brands, leading NRMA to 3 years of customer growth after 7 years of decline, delivering Cheerios first quarter of sales growth after 13 quarters of decline and even helping Yellow Pages steal share of search from Google. Without doubt this Imposterous guest knows how to build a creative culture on the inside that delivers more effective creative output on the outside.
With a new episode every week, The Imposterous is hosted by Michael Knox (ECD, Roller) and Graham Drew (CCO, Grey Malaysia) and as has been created to explore the theory that even the world’s most respected creative professionals suffer pangs of inadequacy that either stifle their potential brilliance or protect them from mediocrity. Tune in to find out how Imposter Syndrome might just be a thing that you don’t have to run from.
Sometimes mistaken for more of a pheromone than a sound, this podcast is joyfully handcrafted by Andrew Stevenson (We Love Jam Studios) – The Imposterous is available now on itunes, Spotify, Google Play or imposterous.com
Listen to previous season two episodes one with Jeff Goodby, Valerie Young, Damon Staplton & Tom and Mietta McFarlane here.