Clemenger has restructured, bringing all of its agencies under one chief executive officer, Chris Howatson, and one name, Clemenger Agency Brands. Howatson will retain his role as chief executive officer of Che Proximity. The new division houses CHE Proximity, Clemenger BBDO, Clemenger Brisbane and Levo. Clemenger BBDO and CHE Proximity will continue as separate, conflict-managing agencies with Nick Garret continuing his role as chief executive officer of Clemenger BBDO, Australia.
Robert Morgan, chair of Clemenger Group, explained, “We are committed to celebrating the differences between our agencies, their cultures and geographies. We will maintain our different brands and cultures, yet benefit from cutting-edge common capabilities that are needed to best serve our clients to win in the new era of advertising. This structural change enables us to move faster and with greater efficacy.”
Clemenger Agency Brands is an apparent response to the impact that consultancies are having on the business of advertising. An evolution is in progress, in which agencies look deeper into the business of their clients to solve problems and accelerate growth. CHE Proximity has already reinvented itself to incorporate a wider role that includes consultancy services. Howatson recognised as far back as early 2018, that data and technology were changing the industry and that pure creativity was no longer enough to excel.
“Creativity is empty if it’s not focused, and so I think what our responsibility is as a modern advertising agency is to better understand the customer and apply the power of creativity in such a precise and deliberate way that we can justify to our clients that marketing gets them up into that c-suite area of influence,” he stated at the time. The limit of consultancies, he added, is in their creative execution. The limit of purely creative agencies is in the “upstream thinking stuff”. CHEP, he added, had achieved a balance of consultancy capability orientated around customer experience.
He detailed today what the new entity means in practice, “Creativity is an economic multiplier that when applied to all dimensions of our clients’ businesses – product, service, experience, process and culture – is near impossible for competitors to rapidly imitate. With over 700 people, we are Australia’s leading creativity consultancy.
“However, there is an important distinction between creative and creativity: Creative is what a department does when producing ads. Creativity is a way of thinking that creates value in all and any application across a client’s business – communications sometimes being an output, but increasingly not, as we support clients across all business functions as well as their customers across all journeys.
“Over the last 70 years we’ve heavily invested in building a culture of creativity, and with this next phase of CABs, we’ll continue to see investment in both of our leading brands to build a future-facing creativity model. This is more than enhancing data, experience and technology services, but how those capabilities are applied with signature Clemenger Group creativity.
“Historically all agencies have essentially done the same thing. Critically, what we’ll be building is a portfolio of brands each fluent in modern communication design and orchestration, but importantly differentiated by their own creativity stretch. CHE Proximity has emerged as a leader via its Connected Creativity customer experience approach to brand management and business transformation. While Clemenger BBDO has successfully expanded from a focus on advertising to a wider lens of applied creativity thinking.”
Morgan added, “Chris Howatson has demonstrated incredible energy, foresight, determination and flair to build CHE Proximity into one of the world’s great new age creative agencies. I know he will take on these new responsibilities with the same energy to lead the customer transformation across our other agencies.”