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How Tribal AUNZ Is Working Together to Solve the Thorniest of Problems

Advertising Agency
Auckland, New Zealand
Tribal Australia and Tribal Aotearoa New Zealand’s managing directors share their plans, creative ambitions and reveal how the teams have been collaborating across the Tasman Sea

Everybody needs good neighbours. And when it comes to the teams at Tribal Australia and Tribal Aotearoa New Zealand, it looks like there’s a fair bit of neighbourly collaboration going on. Both agencies are have been bringing together their creative energies and expertise. It’s part of a broader collaborative movement across the DDB Group in the region and the leadership at both agencies hope that they can work more closely, make the most of each office’s strengths to build on the momentum that’s been building up over the past year.

To hear more about the partnership and how the two agencies plan to work together going forward, Tribal Australia’s managing director Davy Rennie and Tribal Aotearoa’s managing director James Blair shared their thoughts.

LBB> Looking back over the past 12 months, what are you proudest of?

Davy> It's difficult to pick a single moment. Being recognised again as a real digital creative business - and a bloody good one at that - has been sensational.

Winning some metal at the Effies for our VW ecommerce solution was up there, because it was reflective of how we partnered with a brand we have had from day one and challenged their traditional model. And then to see how Tribal contributed to DDB Group’s achievements has been next level – a Grand Prix at Spikes Asia, one of Contagious’ top eight best and bravest agencies in the world, and AdNews’ Employer of the Year.

But the best bit is knowing just how much effort goes into these projects. We’ve got people who joined us three years ago when times were tough, who have punched way above their station, built amazing partner and Group relationships, and put out incredible work. I’m proudest of them

James> Reaching 12 million downloads for Samsung iTest, and then having Samsung Global pick it up for a worldwide launch – this has been huge for us. I’m so proud that our team in New Zealand created something that actually spread virally around the world. That’s an incredible achievement, especially when you realise how miniscule the media budget was. The funny thing is that most of the initial media coverage came from tech blogs in the Mac world like MacRumors! 

So it was really pleasing to win a Grand Prix at Spikes for iTest, followed by another Grand Prix at Axis, where Samsung was also awarded Client of the Year. That’s amazing when you think about it. We’ve never seen digitally led campaigns and clients receive so much recognition.

LBB> What does an amazing digital experience look like in 2022?

Davy> We talk a lot about ‘Moments of Critical Context’ at Tribal. The moments that make good experiences great, the moments that bring to life an Emotional Advantage, which is what we promise to give brands at DDB Group. They realise the promise a brand is making and create a truly distinguishable experience. 

With VW, for example, when we talk about ‘Joyful Reinvention’, we don’t just do work that makes the experience easy or effective. We create experiences that consumers find new, exciting, and engaging, like a video game for Ad Break Championship or the audio tour augmented reality experience for the Walkinshaw Station campaign.

James> We are really aligned on this idea of moments when technology, humanity, and creativity come together. It’s those ideas that treat people to an emotive digital experience that really resonates. This is how we make digital ideas more human. 

Lots of digital agencies are fantastic at creating efficient experiences with as few steps as possible, and plenty of white space. But why stop there? Our recent work for Johnnie Walker Voice Edition really delivers on making the real-world experience more like the online one, and vice versa. We created a way to capture stories online and then brought this into a product that had the ability to both play these stories back and record new ones. We quite literally bottled the feeling of hanging out with your dad on Fathers’ Day.

LBB> How do you identify a great opportunity to work collaboratively on a piece of work with other parts of DDB Group?

Davy> It all starts with behaviours. We have the brilliant PR and experiential agency Mango solving cultural challenges through immersive experiences and communication. We also have the ever-innovative TRACK unpicking even the most complex of data challenges. DDB sits at the centre of the broader Group, with creativity and strategy that is some of the best in the world. 

So it just makes sense for us to work like a single Group, capable of solving any brand challenge.

James> I also think the definition of the Group is changing to mean more than a room of like-minded agencies linked by the mothership of DDB. DDB Group attracts some of the most talented, smart, and creative individuals. With all of these amazing people in the building, we can live the idea of right brief, right team and bring people together around client problems in the best way possible. 

As Tribal is small and nimble, we have had a lot of support from the Group to do this and really love the opportunities to build these cross functional teams across different briefs.

LBB> How is Tribal collaborating across AUNZ?

James> As our agency offerings have matured more recently, our two teams across Australia and New Zealand have been able to really look at what we think we could be working on together. The answer is: a lot! So much so that this year, we’ve already started working on a few projects together. 

I think our most important realisation is that we have different strengths within each office, which we can call on to support each other, and a shared philosophy of what makes great work. Beyond this, we really get on well together – the Aussies are a great bunch of humans! 

LBB> What’s both the short-term and long-term plan for Tribal AUNZ?

Davy> Tribal will always be part creative, part technology and a whole load of human insight. We will always create work that lives in the middle of that trifecta, but that doesn’t mean the work will always be digital. 

We have a ton of projects on at the moment that take really challenging, human problems and try to solve them with leading-edge product design and innovation. We can't talk about all of them, but one we are so excited about is with Sports Access Foundation, led by the brilliant Katie Kelly OAM. We are working with the Foundation to level the playing field for children of all abilities, so every kid with a disability has a chance to participate in sports in Australia.

Digital will always be our core offering, but humanity and creativity are the fuel that powers it. Over the short and long term, Tribal will become closer to the creative power of DDB Group, using the brilliant minds of the Group every day to solve even the thorniest of brand challenges.

James> We’re also big on the idea of delivering a total experience for our clients. Total experience is about joining up the components of a brand’s ecosystem as much as we possibly can, delivering on the brand’s positioning through every touchpoint and, importantly, creating consistency. It’s great if we have built an amazing web experience, but if this doesn’t look anything like the comms in market or the retail experience, we have missed a huge opportunity.

Creativity will always be the most powerful force in business and bringing this to the fore alongside technology will always be our secret sauce as a digital-first agency.