1. Before we dive into your role at Thinkerbell, what has your career journey looked like so far?
I think I was always interested in brands and people. I remember watching ads on tele with my sister at a young age in Germany, guessing which brand was behind the commercial. Perfect little consumers of the 80ies, I guess.
1)Moving from hospitality to studying advertising
When I was much older I stumbled across a book written by Vance Packard’s ‘The Hidden Persuaders.’ I ran bars and clubs at the time but immediately realised that my future was not in hospitality but in advertising.
So, I left Germany and started studying Marketing & Communications in Glasgow. Not a great move for a guy called Gerry (the German) but I loved every second of it.
I ended up finishing my Masters with a stint in the States and then worked across Europe, Singapore and Australia.
2)Working in advertising
Throughout my travels across different cultures I enjoyed figuring out how people tick; what drives them, their motivations and desires, and then use that understanding to build brand narratives for commercial gain, social change, and/or behavioural change.
As you can see, I had a pretty linear career journey. I studied what I currently practice. I guess, I was lucky to realise what I like doing very early on in my career. But don’t be discouraged if your journey is not that linear.
Throughout my career as an employer I always looked for people who were coming from different backgrounds with different passions outside work. Building an eclectic team with different heart beats is important to create different ideas.
2. Transitioning into work, what the heck does an Executive Head Brand Thinker @ Thinkerbell do?
What is Thinkerbell?
Thinkerbell is a place where marketing science meets hardcore creativity.
In other words, Thinkerbell is an eclectic bunch of extremely intelligent and talented misfits that like to make cool things happen in popular culture.
There are also no egos, silos or hierarchies that stand in the way of the work which makes Thinkerbell very different compared to your ‘normal’ agency structure and ways of working.
What does your role entail?
That’s some title, huh? Please don’t picture me pontificating in a strategy ivory tower.
My role essentially is to be responsible for the strategic soundness of solving our clients’ business problems in the Sydney office.
There is never a dull moment at Thinkerbell.
Yesterday I worked on a documentary with the aim of inspiring a nation of helpers; today I realised my childhood dream by working with Henson’s Creature Shop (the makers of the Muppets, etc.) to combat Tall Poppy syndrome; and tomorrow I’ll reignite your thirst for beer. Wait and see. 😉
3. What’s an example of a campaign that you’ve worked on in your current role and what was your role in bringing it to life?
Thus far, I have been really fortunate to work with many great people across the globe to create ideas that made a splash in culture.
Together, we made Lamb our National meat, let people “Share a Coke” with their name on it; and most recently we are changing the conversation about Tally Poppy syndrome and ambition in Australian culture.
Campaign Name: Tall Poppy
Client: CGU – Insuring Ambition
Target Audience: Insurance Brokers and SMEs
Purpose: Support ambitious small business owners
Out of home media:
What was it?
In Australian culture we have a phenomenon called ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. Ambitious people who rise to the top of their profession frequently attract envious hostility, to the extent that they are verbally and/or emotionally cut down.
People’s motivation: cutting down a tall poppy is to keep flowers’ height uniform.
Read: nobody is meant to be better than others, nobody is allowed to stand out.
This is bad news for ambitious business owners. How can businesses, ideas and innovation grow if we consistently cut them down?
Together with CGU Insurance, a business insurer, we wanted to reframe ambition in culture.
What was my role?
At Thinkerbell there is no “I”, there is only “we”. Strategically, we repositioned ambition as fragile, as something to be nurtured and protected, not as something to be cut down. That was the starting point for the creative development and collaboration with Brian Henson.
From there on in, the role of strategy was to:
- Keep the narrative tight and on point
- Define messages in the market AND
- Delineate how all media touch points connect to achieve the greater business goal of inspiring brokers to protect and nurture their clients’ ambition with CGU Insurance
4. For those who are curious about a career in advertising, what do the entry level pathways look like?
Advertising offers many roles and responsibilities.
Figuring out what blows your hair back is important:
- Do you like managing projects?
- Do you enjoy the dark arts of brand development
- Do you enjoy ideating or producing things?
Understanding what is meaningful to you that stretches your skills and imagination is a good start. If you have no idea, you can try to get a sneak peek into agencies via internships, organised programs or books/podcasts that shine a light on advertising from different angles.
Or drop me a line, I am always keen to help young talent out. Here you go: GerryCyron@thinkerbell.com
5. What one thing you recommend an aspiring advertising planner/strategist do right now?
Read, do, inhale as much random shit as possible.
New strategies and ideas come from seeing connections between things that haven’t been connected before.
If you subject yourself to the same information as everyone else, you will only have thoughts like everyone else.