Behind the doors of… Pusher

Behind the doors of… Pusher
SHARE
THIS



Independent digital agency Pusher wowed the creative community last year when it beat the big names to win B&T’s Queensland Agency of the Year. The Pusher boys tell Madeleine Ross why bigger isn’t necessarily better.

When founders Mike Crebar and Kim Hopwood were searching for a name to encapsulate their start-up in 2004, ‘Pusher’ instantly appealed.

“The formal definition of ‘pusher’ is an actively or aggressively ambitious person,” says director and co-founder Mike Crebar. “I think that is true of the people who work with us and for us. We’re all about pushing people to get the best out of them, pushing budgets, limitations, boundaries.”

In nine years this enterprising indie has pushed its way to 30 staffers, two offices (Sydney and Brisbane) and some big clients, including the Brisbane Heat cricket team, Ardent Leisure (the owners of Dreamworld), Lorna Jane and, more recently, an undisclosed internet giant.

Within its first 12 months of operation, and with only a handful of staffers, Pusher’s Brisbane office won B&T’s Queensland Agency of the Year award in 2012, over heavyweight creative shops like BCM and GPY&R.

The boys call the agency “backwards”. Not because it’s stuck in the past, but rather because they began in new media and are now expanding into traditional. “We started digital and we keep it at our core, but every now and then we flutter into above the line work,” says Crebar.

The history

Crebar and Hopwood were both 24 when they set up Pusher. Crebar was an account manager at Clemenger BBDO and Hopwood was a consultant at Cisco.

“We were a bit clueless I suppose,” admits Hopwood. “I’m a nerd at heart, but I have creative bloodlines. My dad was a cinematographer and his dad was an arts director at Patts.”

He says “the stars aligned” when he got a call during a year out of work (which he spent skydiving and base jumping around the world) from Crebar asking him to join forces and set up an agency.

“In 2004, people weren’t even using the term ‘digital’ really, it was more ‘kids that knew that internet thing’, so it was an interesting start,” recalls Hopwood.

The work

As Pusher’s client roster grew, so did its requests. The agency has “fluttered” into above the line work, as Crebar puts it, producing some TVCs, print and large format outdoor executions, in addition to its core digital work.

It has thrown Pusher into the major league. They regularly find themselves head-to-head with the Goliath networks in digital and creative pitches – and the Pusher slingshot has a deadly aim.

“I don’t think there is anything that they’ve got that we don’t have and if they do, I don’t see them utilising that strength or power,” says Crebar of the major networks.

“We show just as many smarts, just as much knowledge of the category, we’ve got a lot of innovation that we can bring to the table where often they have case studies from years back which don’t show any innovation.”

Hopwood adds: “When you are within a network, you are forced to use the people who are in your network, whereas when you are in an indie you can choose whoever you want – you can go out and choose best of breed, and that is what I think gives us a competitive edge.”

But being digitally-savvy doesn’t mean an excuse to show off.

“A lot of digital agencies can still get carried away with the technology and doing something just because it’s cool or new, but you have to think about what behaviour is driving people to somewhere,” says Hopwood. “It’s about a traditional planning process and understanding of strategy, rather than just technology for technology’s sake.”

“Gone are the days of gimmicks,” adds Crebar. “People just want results now, and they are looking more into the audience they want to connect with.”

The philosophy

‘Make it first, make it fun and make it count’. Those are Pusher’s internal values.

“The thing that gets us out of bed is trying to do something new,” explains Hopwood. “We also want to enjoy what we’re doing. There is nothing worse than having a tense relationship with a client – it stifles creativity and it doesn’t build trust.

“The best work always comes out of relationships where you have trust. It’s not about winning an award – that won’t keep a client in the long term – it’s about getting big results for them.”

So, which clients is Pusher chasing?

“Brave clients,” answers Hopwood. “I think there is a culture in Australia that clients are risk-averse and play on the safe side. Look at countries like New Zealand – I think they are pushing things a lot further. We want to find more of those brave clients in Australia.”

The future

As well as chasing the brave clients down, and growing its portfolio of above the line work, Pusher intends to grow its data offering.

“It’s a massive buzz word, but we absolutely see the relevance of it,” says Crebar.

But, at the same time, Pusher is focused on retaining its good bits.

Crebar concludes: “We want to continue to grow, but maintain our culture at the same time. Hiring the right people is really important, and the right clients are important too. It’s not just about becoming a big agency – it’s about becoming the right agency and staying on strategy.”

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Diesel Unveils Latest Oddball “Capsule” Campaign That Puts An End to Boring Meetings
  • Campaigns

Diesel Unveils Latest Oddball “Capsule” Campaign That Puts An End to Boring Meetings

Italian fashion brand Diesel has unveiled its latest campaign and it’s possibly one of the nuttiest yet. The work of Publicis Italy, the campaign is titled “The Capsule” and is a playful dig at tedious work meetings. “The Capsule” is a prototypical new (and purposefully uncomfortable) meeting room designed to keep conference and gathering times […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Starcom Ramps Up Customer Experience Offering With Three Senior Appointments
  • Media

Starcom Ramps Up Customer Experience Offering With Three Senior Appointments

Starcom Australia has announced three new national leadership team roles to deliver on positive customer experiences and ‘Return on Experience’ for clients. ‘Return on Experience’ (ROE) is an additional measure that works in tandem with Return On Investment (ROI). The Media Futures report found that ROE, which combines business and human outcomes, is the most valuable measurement for […]

Marc Edward Agency Snares PR Account For Cruiseco Australia
  • Marketing

Marc Edward Agency Snares PR Account For Cruiseco Australia

Experiential marketing firm Marc Edward Agency (MEA) announced the addition of Cruiseco Australia as client for its communications division. Following on from its execution of the Cruiseco 17th Annual Conference in Brisbane earlier this year, MEA has been appointed as the cruise specialist’s PR agency of record. Cruiseco CEO Amanda McClelland said: “Having demonstrated their […]

Why All Email Should Be Mobile First
  • Opinion

Why All Email Should Be Mobile First

In this guest post, Engaging.io’s Matias Bezzo (pictured below) says with the rise of the smartphone and the inundation of emails, the two should NOT be mutually exclusive… About eight years ago I went to an Adobe Creative Cloud summit, this was when Adobe had just moved to a cloud-based application and revamped all their products. The […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ten’s Damien Fleming Follows Ricky Ponting To Seven’s Cricket Commentary Box
  • Media

Ten’s Damien Fleming Follows Ricky Ponting To Seven’s Cricket Commentary Box

Seven has pinched another of Ten’s cricket commentators, announcing former Australian fast bowler Damien Fleming will join the team when the broadcaster starts airing games in December. Fleming was commentating on Ten’s Big Bash League (BBL), however, the network was left without any cricket rights when Seven (in a JV with Foxtel) secured all the […]

39th AWARD Awards Winners Announced
  • Media

39th AWARD Awards Winners Announced

The winners of the 39th annual AWARD Awards were announced tonight in a celebration of the most outstanding creative communications work in the Asia Pacific region. The theme for the night was “Count Yourself Lucky” and didn’t disappoint with a record number of golds being presented. Held at Carriageworks as part of the Semi Permanent […]

Women In Media Profile: Zeina Khodr
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Zeina Khodr

When B&T was offered to interview a lady named “Zeina”, we initially thought it was the warrior princess herself.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Q&A With Cannes Chairman Terry Savage
  • Advertising
  • Media

Q&A With Cannes Chairman Terry Savage

If you mistakenly thought this was an interview with Kojak's Telly Savalas, as it turns out, it's even better than that.

Optus To Phase Out Virgin Mobile Brand
  • Marketing

Optus To Phase Out Virgin Mobile Brand

Didn't much fancy that Telstra story above? Well, perhaps B&T could tempt you with this tasty Optus tickler instead.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
AKQA R&D Teams Up With Google For Semi Permanent 2018
  • Media

AKQA R&D Teams Up With Google For Semi Permanent 2018

AKQA R&D in collaboration with Google has developed a process called Somesthetic Transfer. It uses machine learning to take both the style and texture of an artwork and apply it to another image to be 3D printed with a UV printer. The works will be displayed at Semi Permanent 2018 in Sydney from Thursday 24 […]

WPP’s Health & Wellness To Unveil ‘How Design Can Save A Life” For Vivid
  • Marketing
  • Media

WPP’s Health & Wellness To Unveil ‘How Design Can Save A Life” For Vivid

Design students from Torrens University’s Billy Blue College of Design have partnered with WPP AUNZ’s Health & Wellness division to decode clinical data on ‘Medicinal Marijuana in the Treatment of Epilepsy’. Their creative solutions will be presented at a Vivid Ideas Exchange titled ‘Design can save your life: how can creativity improve comprehension of health data?’ […]

Diversity Case Study Series: The Royals
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Diversity Case Study Series: The Royals

If you read one diversity case study on B&T today, make it this one. Not that there's any others to choose from, really.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Cricket Australia Finds New Major Sponsor
  • Marketing

Cricket Australia Finds New Major Sponsor

B&T was going to insert a homage to Sherbert's classic "Howzat" here before realising it was naff and showed our age.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
PHD Wins HSBC Global Media Account
  • Media

PHD Wins HSBC Global Media Account

ICYMI, PHD has FTW the HSBC business IRL. It's not so much a LOL or NSFW, but a TL;DR. Ahh, forget the whole thing.

InMoment Accelerates APAC Expansion With Key Acquisition
  • Media

InMoment Accelerates APAC Expansion With Key Acquisition

Customer experience (CX) intelligence platform, InMoment, has expanded into Australia and New Zealand with the acquisition of customer experience agency, brandXP and appointment of Claire Fastier as its APAC business head.

Marketers Need To Focus On Voice Search Right Now
  • Opinion

Marketers Need To Focus On Voice Search Right Now

In this opinion piece, Performics Australia performance content account director Steve Robinson (pictured below) dives into the hazy relationship between marketers and voice-activated technology. From settling family disputes, (“Hey Google, are fossil fuels really made from dinosaur bones?”) to running a household, (“OK Google, add toothpaste to my shopping list”), voice-activated systems are becoming more […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SpotX Launches Online Resource Library For Publishers Seeking GDPR Guidance
  • Advertising
  • Media

SpotX Launches Online Resource Library For Publishers Seeking GDPR Guidance

Video advertising and monetisation platform SpotX has announced the launch of an online resource library for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The library can be found on the company’s website and is part of a wider educational initiative by SpotX – which is headquartered in the US and has an office in […]

Daylight Agency Opens Government Division, Hires Legal & Political Expert
  • Marketing

Daylight Agency Opens Government Division, Hires Legal & Political Expert

Integrated communications firm Daylight Agency has cemented its presence in the government and political arena with the appointment of industry veteran David Begg. A practising solicitor for over 28 years, Begg (pictured above) will head up the agency’s new government division. He has extensive experience working with large commercial clients on high-profile regulatory and legal […]

Frost Design Unveils New Look For John Holland
  • Marketing

Frost Design Unveils New Look For John Holland

Frost Design has shown off its comprehensive rebrand of iconic Australian infrastructure and property business John Holland, based around the brand idea of ‘Transforming Lives’. John Holland CEO Joe Barr said Frost was the only branding business who understood that the impact of the rebrand was just as important internally as it would be externally, […]

Women In Media Profile: Jill Johnston
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Jill Johnston

We've got an absolute cracking Women in Media profile today. Not to say it's approved by the Chiropractors' Association.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama Dance Together at the Presidents Ball
  • Media

Netflix Secures Producer Deal With The Obamas

It seems former US president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama aren’t quite done with the international spotlight just yet. The Obamas have officially signed a multiyear deal with Netflix, which will see the power couple producing films and series with the streaming giant. According to Netflix, “The Obamas will produce a diverse […]

How To Spot A Trend Versus A Fad
  • Opinion

How To Spot A Trend Versus A Fad

One need only view our editor's hot pink leg warmers today to realise he's neither fad nor trend.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Why Engagement Is The New Rule Of Content
  • Opinion

Why Engagement Is The New Rule Of Content

And why is B&T running a photo of an engaged couple for this content engagement article? It was either that or a carrot.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Fairfax Media Recruits 20 Trainee Journalists Across All Its Titles
  • Media

Fairfax Media Recruits 20 Trainee Journalists Across All Its Titles

Fairfax Media has today announced the recruitment of 20 trainee journalists to join the newsrooms of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times and WAtoday. This represents one of Metro’s largest trainee intakes in years and underlines the commitment of the mastheads to fostering a new generation […]

Sydney Australia - November 7, 2011. An extreme close up of an American express card issued by the Australian bank Westpac.
  • Media

AMEX Launches Global Media Review

Are there not enough hours in the day? Are you cheek-by-jowl with your co-workers? Well, hopefully you won't win this.

Sydney Water & Republic of Everyone Create Vinyl Records Made Of Recycled Marine Plastic
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Sydney Water & Republic of Everyone Create Vinyl Records Made Of Recycled Marine Plastic

Sydney Water has pioneered a way to create records from marine plastics and, in doing so, encourage more people to join the movement of local clean-up groups rolling up their sleeves every weekend to clean plastics, litter and other pollutants from the city’s beaches and waterways. Plastics are collected by volunteers, then cut in pieces […]

Credit Card Compare Names Its First Head Of Marketing
  • Marketing

Credit Card Compare Names Its First Head Of Marketing

Aussie credit card comparison site Credit Card Compare has announced the appointment of Caroline Raffan as its inaugural head of marketing. Raffan (pictured above) has over 10 years’ experience in brand strategy, campaign development, digital marketing, events, public relations, content creation, market research, advertising, stakeholder management, social media marketing, and project management. She joins Credit […]

Why Programmatic Needs To Become A Branding Machine
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Opinion
  • Technology

Why Programmatic Needs To Become A Branding Machine

In this opinion piece, Phil Murrell (pictured below), country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Sizmek, argues that programmatic ad spend needs to move up the branding funnel. When I started in digital advertising way back in 2004, we got our media insertion orders via the fax machine. We relied on that machine to […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine