1. Before we dive into your role at OMD Australia, what has your career journey looked like so far?
It started really broad and as I’ve discovered what I like and what I’m good at, the focus has narrowed. My career was also slow to start after a few years overseas, living in London. I had studied journalism and always thought I’d become a writer.
Entering media agency land
A friend of mine introduced me to the concept of media agencies, before that I’d never heard of them. When I moved to Sydney at 23 I started as a Media Assistant, I needed a job and it sounded interesting. I found myself enjoying it even more than I thought I would and quickly rose the ranks to Account Manager over the next couple of years.
I was introduced to strategy through competitions like Cannes Young Lions. What I liked about strategy was that it incorporated storytelling with deep diving into behaviour and culture which felt pretty close to the things that had originally drawn me to journalism.
I officially made the jump to strategy in 2020 with News Corp and spent a couple years honing my craft before returning to OMD late last year for my dream job.
2. Transitioning into work, what the heck does a Strategist @ OMD Australia do?
What is OMD Australia?
OMD Australia is part of the OMD global network and is the world’s leading marketing and communications agency.
What do strategists do at OMD Australia?
Problem solving is at the heart of what we do.
We work to uncover the barriers we face to achieving client’s goals, the context we need to overcome and the insight that will unlock the solution to solving the barrier/problem.
Working with the planning team, we then help to bring this to life through media.
What does your role entail?
The clients I work with include Beiersdorf, Canva, NSW Government, Sony Pictures Releasing, A-Leagues and Frucor.
A big part of our job is to respond to briefs through our strategic process ‘OMD Design’, which is how we methodically work through problem solving.
We also contribute to thought leadership that we share with clients which might include deep dives on cultural trends, categories or audiences and help write awards to enter our clients work.
Strategic thinking is becoming even more important as we navigate our way out of Covid and grapple with concepts like web3 or the metaverse so we find ourselves looped into all kinds of client projects and discussions outside of what I’ve mentioned.
3. What’s a campaign you’ve worked with on in your currently role and how have you helped bring them to life?
Campaign Name: Ghostbusters: Afterlife Theatrical Launch
What was it?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife starring Paul Rudd was released in late 2021 in the crest of the Omicron wave.
The Ghostbusters Australia release sits in the top three market launches globally.
What was your role?
I led the development of the media strategy and ideation of out of the box ideas through our internal ideation process Creative by Design.
We needed to find new ways to connect with consumers and drive them to the movies when at-home options have become more compelling and convenient than ever.
Some of the campaigns we ran included:
- A strong audio visual, social and outdoor campaign
- Working with radio traffic updates to stage a ‘ghost sighting’ on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- A replica of the famous car from the movie, the Ecto-1 which did the rounds of Sydney to generate excitement
4. What do the entry level pathways into a media agency look like?
Media agencies are such a fantastic place to start your career, regardless of where in advertising or marketing you end up. It gives you a really good foundation upon which to build a career.
Starting at Media Assistant level gives you an understanding of how to plan and buy media, exposure to both client and sales sides and access to a broad range of internal and external training.
As you rise the ranks through Account Management you will increase your exposure to clients and your ability to influence decisions. You can also start to explore the specialities within agencies such as trading, digital, content or strategy.
What about as a strategist?
Traditionally you’d start as a Media Assistant, however, there are a few things you can do beforehand to prove your aptitude:
- Enter competitions
- Find a mentor
- Follow thought leaders in the field
- Always be curious & consuming information
Enter competitions like Cannes Young Lions. At OMD we also have Pitch Off. These experiences simulate what it’s like to be a strategist to sense-check you like it and give you an opportunity to build a profile and portfolio.
2)Find a mentor
Find a mentor who is already doing the job you want to learn more about the work and to understand the specific steps that make sense for you to work towards moving into strategy.
3)Follow thought leaders in the field
Follow strategists like Julian Cole, strategy consultant for The Planning Dirty Academy and Mark Pollard, host of the Sweathead podcast and Facebook group. These guys have long and storied careers in strategy and are a wealth of information and inspiration.
The best advice I ever received was that a great strategist doesn’t necessarily know the answer but they know where to look for it.
4)Always be curious & consuming information
Listen to podcasts, read the news, read books, follow cultural forecasters on TikTok. Be curious and hungry for knowledge.
Mark Pollard talks about there being no barrier between strategy life and life. The things you consume in your own time can also lead you to great information and insights.
5. What’s one thing you recommend an aspiring media agency strategist do right now?
Go in with an open mind and put your hand up for everything. It will probably lead you in a direction you didn’t expect and towards something that aligns to what you like and what you’re good at.
Don’t feel that you have to work late all the time to get ahead. Maturity looks like managing up and being proactive in your thinking, not who puts in the most hours. It’s important to look after your mental and physical wellbeing.