STW Group is kicking off its first new business since it merged with WPP at the end of last year, and it’s nabbed award-winning creative director Simon Collins for the job.
The group has enticed the former EURO RCG global creative director back down under from London, to be the creative director of 1 Kent St, a new firm established to work on high-end and intricate briefs such as mergers and acquisitions.
STW chief executive Michael Connaghan said the business will comprise of “a very senior group of people who are unencumbered by running any other specific agency”.
“The purpose of 1 Kent St is not to replicate anything our existing agencies currently provide, but to help clients who may need a complex, high-level response for a major project or to a business, government or social issue,” he said.
“1 Kent St is essentially a roving group executives able to turn their focus to solving these problems, and developing a response in an instant. They are unencumbered with the running of any one specific agency, so they can offer a rare flexibility. As a result, they are able to quickly immerse themselves in developing a solution without disrupting agency workflow and other client demands.
“The Deloittes and McKinseys of the world have got some of these skills but they don’t have the creative skills to take it to the next level.”
1 Kent St is presented as an agency that would be called in to help ‘reconfigure’ a brand once it has been taken over or morphed into another company, or to work on a crisis management strategy for a business.
Beginning this week, Collins’ role will see him work alongside chief strategy officer Rose Herceg, group business director Rob Currie, and other key experts from within the group as and when required, with Collins admitting he always had the intention of returning to Australia if he could find a job that was the right fit.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work in New York, enjoyed my time in London, but always intended to come back to Australia if the right job was offered,” Collins said.
“This is that job. I am incredibly excited by the prospect of working with Mike Connaghan again, and with the great team he’s assembled at STW.”
Collins has an extensive background that makes him well equipped for the new role. One of Australia’s most awarded creatives, Collins was CD of the Campaign Palace in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1990’s, before launching his own agency, Collins Thomas Cullen in 2000.
The agency was sold to WPP in 2004, and Collins became ECD of JWT Australia, where he first worked with Mike Connaghan, overseeing creative work across all major clients, including Kelloggs, HSBC, Unilever, Vodafone and Nestle.
He also spent several years at EURO RCG (HAVAS) London, where he was Global CD on Reckitt Benckiser business, and a key creative in the successful 2010 Conservative general election campaign.
Collins said apart from the opportunity to work with STW’s talented pool of creatives, he was also looking forward to the challenge of working within the 1 Kent St collective.
“I have always believed that every client is unique, and therefore needs a unique response to every problem,” he said. “Quickly immersing myself in a client’s business and getting to the heart of a brief has always been a key part of my approach, which fits perfectly with the 1 Kent St thinking.”
STW’s $512 million merger with WPP is due to be completed in the first quarter of 2016, however this is subject to regulatory approval, with the ACCC recently announcing it does not intend to conduct a public review of the proposed merger.