CB Exclusive – Campaign Brief can reveal that, after nearly a decade, Toby Talbot is returning to Saatchi & Saatchi to partner Paul Wilson across the Auckland and Wellington offices in the newly created role of Chief Creative Officer.
Talbot is a highly regarded creative leader with over 20 years in the industry in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. He has held senior creative roles at Colenso BBDO, DDB (New Zealand and Australia), Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R in London, and Whybin/TBWA and Assignment in New Zealand.
Talbot (above right) is currently the No. 1 ECD in the world on the global Bestadsontv Creative Rankings over the last ten years. He has won numerous local and international awards including Campaign Asia’s Creative of the Year for Australia and New Zealand. He was also behind the most awarded mobile campaign in the world this year, #comeonin for Sydney Opera House, and led the creative and digital renaissance of DDB Sydney, Australia’s most awarded agency at Cannes last year with 12 Lions.
Talbot’s last role was at Assignment, joining from DDB Sydney in May 2016, partnering up with Peter Biggs and Philip ‘Duster’ Andrew. Talbot stayed for for only 10 months until recently revealing to CB he was departing the agency.
Since then CB has been hearing all kinds of rumours where Talbot was headed next, including the big Omnicom job at Unlimited in Chicago (looking after creative direction of McDonald’s worldwide) as well as a return to Sydney at M&C Saatchi.
Talbot told CB: “I last worked with Paul when, ironically, I’d just left Saatchi & Saatchi. We have long talked about working together again so it’s great to finally make it happen. Paul and his senior team have created something really compelling; a truly collaborative, inclusive culture that not only am I drawn to, but so it appears, new clients are too. Creatively, Gus and Corey have done a fantastic job and now I am looking forward to building on this with them, forging new partnerships and generally getting stuck in.”
Says Wilson (above left): “Toby is a proven creative leader with extensive international and local experience. He is a fresh, progressive creative thinker and all round top bloke. We had a great time working together in the past, so I’m really looking forward to working with him again. With Toby, Gus, Corey and the rest of our talented team in place, we now have an even more compelling creative force to offer our clients.”
Adds Michael Rebelo, CEO for Publicis Communications ANZ: “Toby’s appointment further reinforces and acknowledges the momentum we have seen at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand and the commitment we have to this market. Paul has done a great job leading our agency and shaping this into an exciting creative business that’s fit for the future. Now with Toby joining the team, we’re in an even stronger position to grow and develop our offering in New Zealand.”
Talbot begins his new role in late April.
CB Q&A with Toby Talbot
What’s the secret to getting a creative agency back on top?
Deep and unrelenting passion for the work from everyone, the trust of your clients and a shared agency vision. I am also a firm believer in spotting and nurturing young talent. You need to light a fire in an agency. Exceptional junior talent makes the best kindling.
How long do you give yourself to make Saatchi NZ top 3 in the region?
I aim to hit the ground running at Saatchi. Paul and I want to be top three in New Zealand first. That’s the focus for now.
What do you think of a minor trend for creatives to join the likes of Facebook, Google and major bean counters like Price Waterhouse Coopers? Is the creative ad agency still the place to be?
The big attraction of our people to tech companies is that the best advertising creatives are great storytellers and most ECDs or CCOs will have been tapped on the shoulder once or twice in the last few years. Yes, the financial appeal of the share price is a big carrot, then there’s the fact that you’re working for a giant tech business and the holy grail right now at Cannes is the sweet spot that is the convergence of technology and creativity. However, in my opinion, a creative ad agency still allows you more freedom because you can have multiple partnerships, you’re not just wedded to one platform.
As for the professional services firms, I admire them greatly. They certainly have a far deeper understanding and strategic knowledge of their clients than a lot of agencies do. But deep knowledge is nothing without insight and creativity. And right now, they occupy a very different space in the market to one where creatives thrive. I don’t see true creative convergence happening there for a good while yet.
Was it a mistake to leave DDB Australia for a smaller agency in NZ?
No. I was proud of what I achieved in the two years I was at DDB Sydney under trying personal circumstances, commuting every week being just one of them. After the great Cannes result last year and a complete reboot of the department, I felt I was leaving the agency in a much better shape than I found it and, importantly, I left on great terms with a network that has been really looked after me. And I left primarily because I wanted to be home with my family in New Zealand.
Are you ecstatic to be back in the real world of creative advertising at Saatchi?
I am. There is a huge amount of talent across both sides of the Tasman and great client relationships based on long held trust. It’s a fantastic foundation to build upon.