Deloitte nabs top Kiwi advertising execs to launch creative arm

Consultancy giant Deloitte has recruited a duo of executives from one of New Zealand’s top advertising firms.

The company today confirmed the appointment of former Colenso BBDO executive creative director Dan Wright and executive business director Ahmad Salim.

The pair will be responsible for launching Deloitte Digital Creative in the local market, with Salim taking on the position of managing director and Wright becoming the inaugural chief creative officer.

It’s a move that makes no secret of the bold ambitions Deloitte has for its move into New Zealand’s creative arena.

Matt Lawson, chief creative officer for Deloitte Digital Creative across the Asia-Pacific region, welcomed the arrival of the pair.

“Dan is one of those rare creatives that has the perfect combination of creative vigour and intellectual rigour – and that’s exactly what you need when the aim is to constantly create what’s new and impactful,” Lawson said.

“As for Ahmad, he’s a pioneering leader who has consistently forged new ground for clients, and shows no sign of slowing down. We are incredibly lucky to have both join this unified transtasman team.”

Salim and Wright are highly regarded in the local advertising scene, having worked together on a wide range of multi-award winning campaigns over the years for clients including Pedigree, Spark, DB Export and General Electric.

Wright has a particularly innovative approach to creative briefs and often looks for ways to pull marketing well beyond the realm of a standard television commercial. One of the best examples of this was his work on Pedigree, which has included apps, personalised ads, a Tinder-like service to connect potential dog owners with rescue pets and even a product called SelfieStix, which enabled dog owners to attach a treat to the top of their phones to focus the undivided attention of their furry companion when it came to taking selfies.

This innovative streak was part of the reason he was handpicked to become part of the team at Deloitte.

Grant Frear, lead partner at Deloitte Digital NZ, noted that businesses currently face enormous uncertainty.

“Climate change, digital transformation, social equity issues and societal pressures on businesses to be more purpose-driven means that the traditional levers for growth need to evolve,” Frear said.

“We are at the end of a period of time where business leaders had a clear playbook and entering a period of constant reinvention. This evolution requires the application of creativity to both the systems and stories applied by brands and businesses. Ahmad and Dan join our team at a critical moment, where we see creativity as an all of Deloitte Digital play.”

Salim sees creative expertise as adding something new to the already broad spread of services Deloitte provides to clients.

“By seamlessly integrating creative thinking into those world-class services, we can help brands and businesses tackle the opportunities and challenges of the future with even greater impact,” Salim said.

The point he makes here is important, given that Deloitte’s core business is helping organisations identify issues and improve performance. That information can now be fed into the creative arm at Deloitte, where Salim and Wright can work on creative solutions – which may or may not include advertising.

Roar of the consultancies

The departure of the pair from traditional advertising agencies will send a strong message to the market that the consultancies mean business.

The pair will be joining former Colenso BBDO chief executive Nick Garrett, who was recently confirmed as a partner at Deloitte Creative, based in Australia.

The addition of the duo in New Zealand means that Deloitte Digital Creative now has three studios across both sides of the Tasman.

These moves by Deloitte come shortly off the back of Accenture’s recruitment of DDB’s Justin Mowday and Damon Stapleton to launch the Monkeys in this market.

Accenture’s new agency has already landed a huge client in the ASB account, and the Herald understands there are more announcements to come. So far, clients clearly like what they’re hearing and this means that traditional advertising agencies will increasingly find themselves fighting on a new front.

The strategy being employed by Deloitte does, however, appear slightly different given that they aren’t launching a standalone ad agency in this market.

The firm will instead have Salim and Wright operating under the Deloitte Creative banner, with access to the existing talent pool across both Australia and New Zealand.

Regardless of what shape the new offering takes, Deloitte will make sure that as many Kiwi businesses as possible know what the company can do on the creative side.

The question now is which other clients will follow the nation’s top advertising talent into the consultancy side of the business.

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