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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : January February 2008
fired up. “It’s the best job in Australia really,” says Steve Back, 38, the newly installed ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi Australia kicking back in his harbourside office at 70 George Street, The Rocks. The role reunites him with some old pals from Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland including Dave Bowman, who returns home from Droga5 New York as creative group head, and Brian Merrifield, group creative head of digital. One of the first things Back will do is physically knock down the walls so the creative, digital and direct marketing departments form one creative resource. “It needs to happen physically very quickly so it feels like it’s changed and that changes people’s perceptions as suddenly everyone is working together,” he says. “Culturally Saatchi’s Sydney has been a TV agency … we still need to do great TV ads but we need to embrace new media and think differently about getting our message out to people”. It was this attitude that helped Back click with Saatchi & Saatchi’s CEO Simone Bartley, who has a similar vision for the agency. With his first world- wide board meeting in January and personalised emails coming in from worldwide creative director Bob Isherwood, Back feels like he’s back in a strong and more cohesive network, particularly compared with DDB, where he was creative director of the Sydney office for the past year. He says it felt like a network in name only with communication between the offices driven more by the individual creative directors who knew each other rather than a mandate from the top. A Perth boy, Back moved to Sydney in 1996 and worked at George Patterson and Leo Burnett before heading to Grey London with partner Mark Collis. When Collis returned to Australia, Back stayed in the UK, also working at Walsh Trott Chick Smith and Partners BDDH. After five years he’d had enough of London and took up a job offer from his mate Toby Talbot at Colenso BBDO, Auckland, also working with Richard Maddocks. “I loved Colenso and to this day I love it, the environment was wicked, it was one of the best agencies I have ever worked in.” When Talbot went to Saatchi’s Auckland, Back followed and the two of them were the day-to-day creative directors under Mike O’Sullivan. Back was lured back to Australia in late 1996 by DDB’s Matt Eastwood, who he’d known since Eastwood taught him at AWARD School back in Perth. “The place was pretty much dead so we brought it back to life, it was quite sad to leave because I’d helped to built it up, but I couldn’t not come here for this job, it was a great opportunity.” They put the agency back on the awards radar with work for Wrigley’s, Hasbro and NAPCAN, but Back suspects he needed another year to complete the creative turnaround he’d envisioned. Meanwhile, Back’s mission is to ensure Saatchi’s - a former CB Australian Agency of the Year three years in a row - reclaims the number one spot in 2008. Is he daunted? “I’ve been surprisingly relaxed. The longer I’ve gone through the business the more I’ve realised you just do your thing rather than getting all nervous or worried about it. I love creating ideas and being involved in great work and the philosophy here is that it’s the idea’s company so it’s a good match.” PHOTOGRAPHY: DEREK HUGHES RETOUCHING: MARK YOUNG@PIXELDUST FIRE EFFECT: DAVID TRETHEWEY DTFX.NET LOCATION: LEICHARDT Back’s really
AWARD Awards 2007
March April 2008