Since the spectacular February announcement that Ben Lilley had not only returned to McCann Australia after a two-year hiatus but had bought the agency he founded twenty years previously, he has been more quietly acquiring other smaller agencies. Now Lilley has brought them all together into a “one stop” agency network, Hero, across AUNZ. Currently, Hero joins McCann, Smart, The Red Republic, JSA Digital and Engine Room Productions into one consolidated group, with more acquisitions due to be announced.
The Hero network is united on a single cloud technology platform and offers, creative, digital and media. The platform was designed and implemented by cloud services and infrastructure specialist, iQ3 and SAP Business ByDesign consultant, Acclimation, and offers a single point of contact for every Hero group client.
Lilley commented, “Hero represents a unique offering across Australia and New Zealand. The agility and spirit of an award-winning independent network, integrated with the scale and intellectual capital of the world’s largest global groups: McCANN Worldgroup and IPG. HERO delivers the best of both worlds: local smarts at global scale.
“We cater to clients who are looking for a single-service model, with creative, media, production, PR, digital and data all under the one roof,” he added. “Our national group is able to rapidly integrate a complete marketing-services offering that is diverse, creatively inspired and seamless, with a single HERO point of contact. This includes integrating external agencies who are part of a client’s roster, to allow them to also operate within the single integrated HERO group structure.
“Too many clients spend too much time juggling too many agencies. We’ve developed an operational and service model that provides a single point of contact for each client to our integrated group of best-in-class specialists, with a single job management and billing system that removes the layers of agency duplication and costs that can burden traditional agency rosters.”
At the heart of Hero are three principles, simplicity, agility and creative effectiveness. The network’s technology platform has been built to provide single-source management for each client of their complete marketing needs, with a single Hero point of contact that integrates the network’s collective of specialists.
Lilley described Hero as a post-Covid business model, born out of the challenges of the pandemic. “When the crisis hit, like every agency we had to rethink our entire operating model, especially in Melbourne where our office building has now been closed for more than half of 2020. We had the benefit though of being an independent, unencumbered by legacy issues or network structures. So we’ve been able to redesign our complete operation and transition to a national model of Borderless Creativity, implementing cloud-based technology and platforms to maintain seamless business delivery no matter where each client or staff member is based.”
Craig Humphrey, chief executive officer of iQ3, commented, “We share Ben’s belief that IT is the key enabler for businesses in the digital world. And with the breadth and depth of HERO’s infrastructure solution and its seamless deployment, we’re proud to have been able to deliver this enterprise-class integration and help Hero achieve its ambition of a truly agile and borderless operating system across Australia and New Zealand.”
Lilley added, “All our agencies now operate under a single profit and loss across Australia and New Zealand, to ensure seamless collaboration without siloed decision-making or revenue tussles. And we now run the total business with a single management team, made up of the leaders from each business offering. Our cloud technology is critical to delivering this model.
“But this does not represent a shift from our creative core. The model has been built around integrating and boosting the effectiveness of our creativity. Creativity is the ultimate competitive advantage and the most powerful driver of marketing effectiveness. Hero brings together the only agencies in Australia to be recognised with both the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness and as the most awarded in the world. And with Borderless Creativity, our national award-winning talent is available to every brand and client, no matter where they may be based.”