Why Tom Martin and Julian Schreiber swapped New York City for Cummins&Partners Sydney


MARTIN-SCHREIBER-SPREAD.jpgJulian Schreiber and Tom Martin have returned from New York City to Australia as two of the founding partners and ECDs of Cummins&Partners Sydney. In NYC they played a pivotal role as ECDs of Johannes Leonardo, helping grow the agency with global wins such as TripAdvisor, Sony PlayStation and the entire Adidas Originals business. Campaign Brief takes a closer look… 

Why leave a great job at Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne to move to NYC?

Martin: Our 7 years at Clemenger were the most successful and productive of our careers so it was definitely hard to leave. But over time we realised our end goal was to eventually start our own business. So we began looking at agencies outside of the large networks for our next step.

Schreiber: So we chose Johannes Leonardo really, not New York. We found we had a very similar creative approach as the founders Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico and the agency perfectly met our brief – small, creative and majority independent.

What were some of the highlights at Johannes Leonardo?

Martin: Our first New York pitch was TripAdvisor, two weeks after we arrived. We were just off the boat and pitching against agencies we’d admired from afar for years. When we beat them, we realised we could succeed in NY.

Schreiber: We had a small, incredibly driven crew that just committed themselves to growing the place, which resulted in winning something like five pitches in a row against agencies twice, three times our size. Our first big global piece of work for Adidas Superstar was a real testament to thinking and ambition beating size and network every time.

What enticed you to return to OZ?

Martin: This opportunity came way sooner than we expected and to be honest, we would’ve loved another year or two living and working in NY. But it’s very hard to say no when the very thing you’ve been working towards presents itself.

Schreiber: We’re also very proud of the type of thinking that comes out of Australia. This country has shown it’s consistently capable of creating powerful work where the creative and strategy work seamlessly together and really attack business problems.

Why Cummins & Partners and are you actually the partners?

Martin: The name says it all. Each agency is owned by Sean and a select group of partners. Each partner has real equity and is charged with running and growing their office. Exactly what we wanted for our next move. To be the founding partners that shape it from the beginning.

Schreiber: Sean’s a proven entrepreneurial force and is growing a truly independent, Australian founded network that wants to take on the world. As Sean put it, he wasn’t offering us a job, he was offering a place for us to be true to ourselves both creatively and in business, to carve out something new and become an integral part of C&P’s global ambition.

You’re Melbourne boys, why risk Sydney?

Schreiber: We don’t really see Sydney as a risk. We’ve always been big believers in an agency running its own race. And to us advertising is a global industry, not a local one. Even when we were in Melbourne we never thought of the agencies around us as our ‘competition’. We were always inspired by the work and culture of companies all over the world.

Martin: After moving to New York lots of people did say to us “the U.S. is a very different market”, but in our time there we never really experienced that. If anything, we found if you surround yourself with amazing people and have a distinct creative voice you can succeed anywhere.

What have been some of the top influencers in your career?

Schreiber: Honestly every person we’ve ever worked for or with, is an influencer. You can’t help but work with someone and decide what you’ll keep and reject for yourself. We’ve been extremely lucky to be surrounded by some of the most creative minds in the industry throughout our careers. Hopefully they’ve been influenced by us as much as we have by them.

Martin: Many years ago we saw Neil Gaiman speak. He said to imagine your long-term career goal as a distant mountain. And every decision you make should be another step towards that mountain. If you’re not quite sure what to do, stop and honestly ask yourself if the decision you’re about to make will take you closer to the mountain or away from it. That thought played a large role in us joining Johannes Leonardo and now Cummins and Partners Sydney.

MARTIN-SCHREIBER-WORK.jpgName the campaigns you are most proud of in your careers so far?

Schreiber: The work we’re most proud of isn’t just because of the end result, but also the process and relationships we forged making it.

Martin: With the Four’N Twenty Magic Salad Plate this is a prime example. I’m as proud of the process on this job as the final piece of work. We had quite a few unrelated briefs from our client and we sat down with them, hashed out what was really happening with the brand and what challenges they were facing. We ended up merging all the briefs into one and the result was The Magic Salad Plate. It was also one of our first jobs as a team and it very much shaped how we work together.

Schreiber: And there’s The NAB
Up of course. We’ve always believed that every client is an opportunity regardless of category. It always comes down to a brand’s ambition and I really felt we met NAB’s. It really made the marketplace reassess the bank in one day. After we did ‘Break Up’ NAB became one of the most creatively sought after accounts at Clemenger.

Martin: Then there was Remote Control Tourist, A three day live, online interactive TV show for Melbourne Tourism. The public only saw four Remote Control Tourists on screen. What they didn’t see was the 50 person crew in the control room, managing the control feed, the social media, the constantly created web content all being served out in real time. It was an astonishing thing to pull off.

Schreiber: Finally Adidas ‘Superstar’. It was a pitch idea. We knew we had to use celebrities in this campaign and it made a lot of sense when the product’s name is ‘Superstar’. This could have been very ‘fluffy’ but we used this opportunity to have a real conversation about the nature of  celebrity in today’s world. It’s now the most viewed piece of Adidas Originals created content ever.