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Global viewpoint from New Zealand

It is early winter in New Zealand. The door is open as I sit in shorts, gazing out on to a flat sea disturbed only by the occasional diving gannet.

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The sun makes the odd appearance and my dog sleeps on the sofa. It is Saturday morning and I have some work to do. I will try to keep my gaze on the computer screen and away from the temptation of kayaking out to catch some lunch.

New Zealand is far from the hustle of the advertising world yet, somehow, as an industry, we consistently manage one of the highest rates of Lions per capita in the world. How can that be?

I suspect that the internet has had a greater effect on New Zealand than almost any other country in the world. In advertising terms, for example, in the past, our geographical isolation meant we would wait for months for the DVD of Cannes winners to make its way down here. Now, we can sit by the beach and see what the rest of the world is doing as soon as it is released.


The shortness of the client chains of command is important too. Work is often sold in a conversation in a pub or a quick phone call rather than through a succession of committee meetings. In a past life, I worked in London, where ads were produced months in advance and every minute of that subsequent nine months was used up making so many petty changes that, by the end, you’ve lost sight of what you were trying to say in the first place. I doubt it has changed.

Work is often sold in a conversation in a pub or a phone call, not through a succession of meetings

The drift away from blockbuster TV ads has helped as smart, integrated ideas are something we thrive on. This is real work, not the print scams coming out of much of the world. The other advantage for our award-chasers is that these campaigns often fit into multiple categories as Cannes eagerly expands the opportunites for us to send them more money.

Of the local agencies, Colenso BBDO was recently ranked the most-awarded agency in the world, DDB has been strong for years, FCB has blossomed recently and the consistent Clemenger BBDO has had a great year. There are some good indies coming up too. We’re a small agency and we made the decision not to chase creative awards and, instead, concentrate on the Effies – partly because of the cost of entering, but mainly because clients pay more attention to them. We’re currently ranked the most effective independent agency in the Asia-Pacific region, which we are pretty happy with.

And, most importantly, New Zealand has some great talent, both local and international. The salaries are not big on a global scale, but few countries can match the combination of our lifestyle and overall quality of work. Maybe we’re not getting rich, but we’re having a damn good time not doing it.

Anyway, that’s enough writing –the sea is calling and it’s time to go fishing. Please don’t send all your CVs at once.

Paul Catmur is the creative managing partner at Barnes, Catmur & Friends

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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