The Australian and New Zealand advertising industry will be saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Cameron, chief financial officer of DDB ANZ.
‘The police often question him just because they find him interesting’ is a line from the famous Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World, advertising campaign. In Cameron’s case, it wasn’t the police that wanted to question him because they found him interesting, it was the creatives, suits, producers, strategists, and even clients.
Cameron was a CFO, and a great one at that, but above all, he was an advertising man, with a deep love for and interest in the business, and all the quirky characters that make it their life.
He had a feel for the industry that made him a leader and often the most creative thinker in the room. Yes, he was scary and intimidating, most CFO’s are, and his emails were a thing of precision with every word carefully selected to make a point, but you always felt he was on your side, working hard to find the most ingenious solution to whatever crazy problems he had been presented with.
Cameron’s love for advertising was nurtured at Hertz Walpole, joining in 1987. The agency enjoyed a long standing creative history with creative icons Mo and Jo and during Cameron’s eight years there Hertz Walpole created the famous Tina Turner campaign for The Australian Rugby League in 1990. During the industry’s heydays, it was not uncommon on a Friday evening once Cameron had walked away from his desk to see him don a bandana and gold earring.
He rose to Finance Director before being lured to join fledgling agency M&C Saatchi Sydney in 1996, co-founded by the legendary Charles and Maurice Saatchi, leaders of the most respected advertising agency in the world. M&C Sydney launched with just one client – British Airways, soon to be followed by Qantas. This was the beginning of a long period of rapid, sustained growth and expansion for the agency. In his 13.5 years at M&C Saatchi, Cameron financially led the Australian and the Asia Pacific region, then opening offices in Bangkok, Delhi and Mumbai and taking over the financial running of the Los Angeles, Tokyo and Shanghai offices. He was also instrumental in opening a second Australian agency in Melbourne with ANZ bank as a foundation client.
M&C Saatchi Sydney won every award in Australia and grew from 30 to 350 people during Cameron’s tenure. They were the fiercest of competitors, and no agency was happy if they were on the pitch list.
In 2009, Cameron made the final move of his career, to DDB ANZ, where he also served as a board director for Omnicom Media Group, Australia’s largest media business. He described his 14.5 years at DDB as the happiest of his working life, and the love was mutual.
He was wise, kind, funny, quirky and his speeches within the agency were some of finest, most well-crafted prose you could ever hope to hear. In many ways he was DDB’s biggest asset, and weapon. In a creative industry not known for commercial acumen, Cameron could straddle both worlds comfortably. He understood the immense power of creativity, and appreciated what creatively minded people could achieve for clients and their growth ambitions if they were just granted the freedom to be.
If Cameron was proud of his agency, his finance team and the clients DDB retained and won, he was proudest of his family; his wife Anni, herself from an agency background, and his children Rio and Aria, who both commenced in the advertising industry upon completing university.
Cameron’s happiest days at DDB were undoubtedly when he was surrounded by his children and this came to pass with Rio working at DDB Remedy and Aria working part time in the DDB strategy department.
Every morning the three of them would drive to work, and Cameron would talk about our great industry. It was the best mentoring any person could ever hope to get.
Throughout his four decades in the industry, Cameron’s genuine interest in and care for people regardless of their level of seniority inspired great loyalty in his departmental teams, and his opinion and working partnership was valued and respected at the highest levels of management. He was known for his team attitude, wicked sense of humour and great humility. He was a big thinker who wanted the best for both for his own agency and the industry as a whole. Achieving the high status of Chartered Accountant and CPA for almost 20 years, Cameron mentored many, was a leader in industry groups and networks and had friends across every discipline. These included his financial peers at rival agencies, to photographers, digital and IT experts, art directors and writers, suits, strategists and producers alike, and the many industry friends Anni and he shared.
When Cameron was diagnosed with cancer in November 2022, it was a hammer blow to all who knew him, and especially the many who loved him. All through his illness he remained positive and curious, and with the indefatigable Anni by his side, he fought to the very end.
Cameron’s legacy is massive. He is one-of-a-kind, a giant of the industry and for those who have been successful, it’s because they stand on the rock-solid foundations he created for agencies and the industry they work in, both in Australia and around the world.
Says Andrew Little, CEO and president of DDB Group Australia:
“To say Peter was an important part of the DDB family would be a gross understatement.
“For almost 15 years he was part of the very fabric of our agency. He worked here from 2009 leading our Trans-Tasman finance team but his role knew no bounds. Having his own family, Anni in the creative industry and children Rio and Aria joining DDB in the first steps of their careers, was an honour for DDB and solidified how we felt about each-other. Like family.
“Peter was legendary for his calm and caring nature as well as his quirky humour, which everyone loved him for.
“Being the CFO, he was responsible for the commercial success of the Group but it was the small things that set him apart. He was the first to respond to a promotion or good news announcement – his trademark being a personal note of congratulations and reminding you how well-deserved it was. It meant the world for people just starting their careers or even those decades in to have this kind of support from someone like PC.
“Whilst this news has left us devastated, we will always remember everything he did for us, be forever thankful for the support and encouragement he gave us, and the foundations of success we enjoy today and tomorrow.”
Thank you for everything PC.
A Service Celebrating Peter’s life will be held this Thursday 15 February. All welcome. Please RSVP by midday Tuesday 13 February using this link https://forms.gle/PVawEr1aHPzYAD3P6
Here is the link to the livestream for those who are interstate or overseas https://www.caktusproductions.com.au/petermarkcameron