Former Special NZ GM John Marshall and Ogilvy Australia CSO Ryan O’Connell launch new effectiveness led, trans-Tasman agency jnr.

Former Special NZ GM John Marshall and Ogilvy Australia CSO Ryan O’Connell launch new effectiveness led, trans-Tasman agency jnr.

Two of the most renowned industry leaders in New Zealand and Australia, former Special New Zealand general manager John Marshall (left) and former Ogilvy Australia chief strategy officer Ryan O’Connell (right), have launched a new effectiveness led, independent, trans-Tasman creative agency, jnr.


The agency name – jnr. – is inspired by the energy, fresh thinking and curiosity of juniors. Curiosity like always asking ‘why?’. Or more importantly, ‘why not?’.

jnr. was born out of the reality that the industry has become overwhelmed and paralysed by the avalanche of academic theories, marketing sciences, and new technologies.

The agency’s propriety approach is the creativeffectiveness guide – which doesn’t take the magic out of creativity, nor the brains out of complex theory, science and technology. Rather it is a smart, but simple way to develop effective work for commercially-driven clients.

Over the last five years, the duo’s commitment to ‘smart, but simple’ has amassed an incredible 50+ Effies for their clients, including a Global Grand Effie for KFC Australia, and a Grand Prix Effie for Kiwibank.

During his time at Special, Marshall was a part of an historic run, helping the independent agency win Effies’ Global Independent Effective Agency of the Year, Campaign’s Global Agency of the Year, and New Zealand Effies’ Most Effective Agency of the Year.

Marshall also helped Special expand, leading the opening of its Wellington office, along with their te ao Māori capability unit, Special Aotea. In 2021, he was recognised as the Young Business Leader of the Year for AUNZ by Campaign Asia.

O’Connell spent the last 11 years at Ogilvy Australia, and under his strategic leadership, Ogilvy Sydney was recognised as the 2nd most effective agency in the world in 2022, and twice named agency of the year at the APAC Effies. He helped KFC Australia win Brand of the Year at the APAC Effies, and Advertiser of the Year at the Australian Effies. He was also recognised as the Strategist of the Year for AUNZ three years running in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Says Ryan O’Connell, chief strategy officer, Junior: “JM and I have talked every single day for 10 years. It’s usually about stuff like “Who is the best halfback of all time?” or “Whose dog is cuter?” (it’s mine, by the way), but the number one topic has always been starting our own agency. However, it didn’t really become a serious chat until we felt like we had a unique offering. We think we have that with jnr.

“We’ve always believed creativity and effectiveness are intrinsically linked, and should never be separated. Not even by words. So we created new word: creativeffectiveness. But it’s more than just wanky made-up word, it’s a simple – but smart – guide that we’ve developed to produce the most effective work for our client partners. And it’s a guide that puts our money where our mouth is too. Our client’s success is literally our success.”

Says John Marshall, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Maniapoto, managing director, Junior: “Ryano and I have always tried to make the complex, simple. Mainly because you have to keep things simple for poor old Ryano, or the little guy gets a bit lost. But it’s also led to the best and most effective work we’ve done with our client partners. So that was the driving force behind jnr. – keep it simple, keep it creative, keep it effective. And our proprietary creativeffectiveness guide ensures we do just that. Along with our amazing Creative Partners across the Tasman, we think jnr. offers something a little different to all of the other incredible agencies across Australia and New Zealand.”

jnr. officially opens its doors today 01.02.24 as a full service creative agency across both New Zealand and Australia.

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Former Special NZ GM John Marshall and Ogilvy Australia CSO Ryan O’Connell launch new effectiveness led, trans-Tasman agency jnr.