Kiwi advertising agency Special Group opens an office in London
Sir Elton John and Lil Nas X star in Uber Eats’ “Tonight I’ll Eat…” commercial. Photo / Provided
Independent creative agency Special Group will open a new office in London, a first for Kiwi Advertising.
Special is the first New Zealand advertising agency to launch a full-service office in the UK.
Special London will be the group’s sixth global hub, comprising Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Tony Bradbourne, founder and managing director of Special in New Zealand, said the band’s recent success had put Special on the map in the UK.
“We’ve always had the desire and the vision to build a global business, and right now we have real momentum behind us,” Bradbourne said.
“For decades, Kiwi businesses have exported ‘Brand New Zealand’ to the global stage, but there hasn’t been a New Zealand-based advertising network to help them on this journey. That means teams marketers here have had to seek remote creative partners in the US or UK to expand.
“Now Special has a world-class team based in New Zealand to work alongside these businesses and help them grow in Australia, the US and Europe.”
Bradbourne said the timing seemed very opportune as local brands begin to look to the future as the world opens up from its Covid hibernation.
“Kiwi businesses are absolutely forward looking and planning for the future with open borders, and for the first time in a while, business leaders are jumping on planes and flying back there, and bringing their marks. , their stories and their products around the world. We have a growing number of clients who are focused on international expansion and impact,” he said.
Where Covid-19 has rocked many businesses, Bradbourne said it was quite the opposite for Special.
“Covid-19 has leveled the playing field for us because if everyone is seated at the end of a Zoom call, it makes no difference to global brands if that team is in New York or Paris or Auckland or Sydney “, did he declare.
“They’re just looking for the best strategic and creative thinking, which means we’ve been able to connect further and faster with ambitious clients around the world.”
Bradbourne said since Covid-19 hit two years ago they have managed to open offices in Melbourne and Los Angeles in 2020, and later in Wellington.
“[We’ve] never had so much demand for our talent and unique ideas.”
The highly accomplished Jennifer Black has been named Partner and CEO of Special London.
Black has been chief executive of Havas London for four years and is also a former chief executive and founder of Fabula London. She previously worked for Mother and Fallon in the English capital.
Black was recently named “Account Person of the Year” at Campaign magazine’s Agency of the Year awards.
“We are extremely excited to begin our journey in London with such an amazing, kind and driven leader as Jen. We have enormous respect and love for the strategic and creative thinking that London constantly produces. We hope to add to this in a little bit, bringing a fresh and ambitious model to customers in London,” said Bradbourne.
Black said she was looking forward to bringing energy and thought to the launch of Special London.
“I’m really excited to join the Special family and look forward to bringing that energy to Europe through the new London office,” she said.
Special has yet to name the London-based agency’s creative and strategic partners, but said an announcement would be forthcoming.
Bradbourne said the London office “could easily have 20 staff in the first year”.
Special is somewhat unique among New Zealand independent agencies, exporting its model overseas rather than selling the business to one of the global networks.
Special opened its first office in Auckland in 2008 and won a Cannes Grand Prix (the Oscars of the advertising world) for its first major campaign, which was for Orcon and featured the “Godfather of Punk” Iggy Pop.
“It’s a great start for what was then just a nine-person start-up,” Bradbourne said.
Six years later, its Sydney office opened.
Special Group has recently won numerous industry awards. In 2021, the agency won all industry “Agency of the Year” titles – Campaign Asia, B&T, Campaign Brief, AdNews and Mumbrella – in Australia and New Zealand.
Last year it was named the world’s best advertising agency by respected industry magazine Campaign – a blast given the well-known global brands to which the title usually goes.
The creative agency’s clients include Uber Eats, Virgin, Tourism New Zealand, Smirnoff, Kiwibank and Red Bull.
Special is behind campaigns such as Tourism New Zealand’s “Do Something New Zealand” and Uber Eats “Tonight I’ll Be Eating…” featuring Sir Elton John and Lil Nas X.
In February, Special’s Los Angeles hub’s “Uber Don’t Eats” ad ran in the coveted Super Bowl spot, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow eating her own vagina-scented candle.
“When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty amazing,” Bradbourne said.