Campaign Brief Q&A: The Monkeys Aotearoa’s Justin Mowday and Damon Stapleton – Putting creativity on a bigger playing field
After launching nearly two years ago, The Monkeys Aotearoa CEO Justin Mowday and CCO Damon Stapleton open up about the journey so far, the work they’re most proud of and future goals and ambitions, exclusively with Campaign Brief.
CB: The Monkeys Aotearoa has been monkeying around for nearly two years. How have you found it all?
Justin Mowday and Damon Stapleton: It has been a brilliant, mad and beautiful ride. We have gone from 2 to 72 people. We have won a whole lot of clients and projects. And, we are making all sorts of work, from songs that are designed to reduce anxiety, banking apps that go beyond money and a brand character that represents mother nature, to a car advertising campaign that goes against the normal tropes. Best of all we are getting to do what we set out to do, putting creativity onto a bigger playing field. The truth is we love advertising but we are starting to do a lot more than advertising. We help Boards and Exec Teams with their Purpose. We work on corporate growth strategies, develop CX/DX ambitions, and then execute in new ways from advertising to experiences to marketing transformation to call centres to martech/adtech to sustainability programmes and beyond.
CB: The agency is owned by Accenture. What does that mean for your people and your clients?
JM + DS: It means having a massive amount of support, expertise and knowledge that sets us apart from most communication companies. It lets us fuse true business acumen with world class technology and cut-through creativity. It lets us find the questions, build the answers and create the work that makes our clients grow.
JM + DS: Accenture has an incredible library of case studies and work done around the world (there’s not many problems a business faces in NZ that we haven’t helped someone with similarly, elsewhere in the world), which we can draw on, take the learnings, then apply a local cultural lens. And with over 800,000 people at Accenture, we have access to this enormous global team and the calibre of thinking that we can plug in alongside our local teams here. The cross pollination of innovators, consultants, developers, engineers, technicians, strategists, designers and creatives is something we’ve never had before.
CB: Speaking of people, what does The Monkeys Aotearoa do to attract and retain top agency talent?
JM + DS: We think this Māori proverb says it best, “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!”
We know we’re only as good as our people, and so finding, nurturing, and supporting those people is our first priority. We’ve taken great care to create a culture that attracts the most diverse talent and inspires our people to love what they do. We have specific programmes to attract Māori and Pasifika talent to our industry, most of whom barely know we exist as a career option, yet they are an incredible pool of creative talent with fresh perspectives that we can all learn from. Through Accenture, we’re able to offer all of our people phenomenal up-skilling opportunities. Want to become an AI expert? Passionate about sustainability? Interested in how technology and creativity can happily collide? We have specific training and a diverse range of projects that cover these areas and more.
CB: What campaigns are you most proud of to date?
JM + DS: The work where we are bringing technology and creativity together. I think the work we made for ASB and Youthline is starting to show the direction The Monkeys Aotearoa is heading. Pairing pop star, BENEE, with AUT neuroscientists we designed and tested a song that eases the anxious mind. ‘Bagels’ is now available as a free tool that anyone can use in the moments they feel overwhelmed, with all streaming proceeds going to Youthline. So far we’ve topped 2 million streams.
CB: Looking ahead, what are your goals and ambitions for the agency over the next five years?
JM + DS: Obviously the standard answer is to be successful and do great work. But for The Monkeys Aotearoa it is to try and do work that is at least interesting, and ideally hasn’t been done before. Can we bring human ingenuity, technology and creativity closer together? Can we apply creative thinking to great ads, but also beyond, and get it at the top table? Ultimately, success for us is if we were asked “Did we make creativity a bigger place?”, we could answer “Yes”.