First Droga, now Alberts at Grey. If you count M&C Saatchi's Eastwood (sadly, Matt, not Dave), that's three creative heavyweights from down under shaping London advertising. Throw in Tony Granger from South Africa, now taking the reins at Saatchi & Saatchi London, and advertising's southern hemisphere seems to have tipped upside down. The symmetry is spoilt only by Dave Droga's imminent departure to New York. But since he's taking over as Publicis' global creative chief at roughly the same time as South Africa's John Hunt is taking a similar role at TBWA, then the rise of the southerners is set.
Why is a good question, with several answers.
UK creatives who moved to New York often used to complain that the size and scale of the business over there could stifle creativity, risk-taking and innovation. But consolidation of clients and agencies in the UK market, combined with recession and the profit demands of the holding companies, mean that is happening here, too. London is now less flexible and less experimental than other, smaller advertising markets, where creativity flourishes alongside fresh approaches to the advertising process.
So, at Mojo, Alberts developed the dubiously named Adcepts. Scrape off the marketing-speak and that's a way of pitching for business that asks creatives to find as many different ideas and approaches to a brief as possible, work with consumers and the client to throw out the bad ones and only think about executions when the best concepts have been cherry-picked. Alberts is also a fan of using more freelances and at Grey London, Garry Lace has already set his marker on a more flexible approach to sourcing talent. He recently hired a BBC comedy script-writing team for 24 hours to come up with some ideas for a pitch.
They developed 70 scripts. Whether such innovations are golden solutions depends on the clients and the ad task. But importing fresh thinking and fresh talent is healthy for any business, more so for one rolling in the doldrums like we are here.
Importing talent also answers our dearth of creatives who can and want to manage a department. In London, creatives can glitter without having to take on management responsibilities; you've only really made it in Australia when you're in the boardroom, so creative director is a logical career progression for young creative talent.
And, finally, as one London chief executive says: "People outside London display less of a correlation between being a creative and being an arsehole.
You'd be hard pushed to find an ego between these Australian creative directors."
- Caroline Marshall is on maternity leave.