Behind the doors of … The White Agency

Behind the doors of … The White Agency
SHARE
THIS



2012 was a year of growth and change for The White Agency. Jessica Kennedy stepped inside the digital shop to find out what 2013 has in store.

 

The White Agency has enjoyed a relatively small profile – but in 2013 that is set to change. After a year of growth (roughly 25%) and winning a number of clients, including BlueScope Steel, Panasonic and Lion, the 10-year-old agency feels ready to come out from under the radar.

White has already made headlines this year when founder Craig Galvin left to join News Limited as digital strategy director.

Losing a founder always poses a risk to an agency’s foundations – but not at White, where all due diligence was paid to ensure Galvin’s exit was not the end.

For two years before his departure Galvin took a back seat as executive director, handing the day-to-day reigns over to co-owner Miles Joyce.

The fact the agency’s founder was poached to join a leading publishing is a feather in White’s cap, as well as the fact that in 2007 Australia’s largest marketing and communications group STW bought a 49% stake. STW’s stake has since increased, leaving Galvin and Joyce with roughly 5% each.

But White still operates autonomously. “We absolutely get left to our own devices,” says Joyce. “But what we do is get to look into Australia’s largest communication group and sit around a table with all these really smart people.”

As digital has gone from strength to strength, so has The White Agency.

“Digital has grown up in the time that White’s been in existence and I think White’s grown up with it,” says the agency’s creative director, Mike Barry.

“Back in 2007 it was very much a campaign-focused, banner website, design and build type of agency with email and the beginnings of CRM,” adds Sandy Park, the agency’s managing director.

Now the agency’s aim is to solve business challenges through digital, with a combination of creativity, technology and strategic thinking.

The philosophy

“We really feel that without technology we’re missing a key part of the wheel,” explains Park.

“You have got to be able to ensure that you understand the platforms and select the right technology. But then you need the strategy and the ideas to really drive that marketing point – we are really focused on delivering that.”

The agency has jumped on the integration not disruption bandwagon and is relishing advertising’s new direction.

While White has matured alongside digital, marketers have struggled. As a result, one of White’s key concerns is educating its clients.

“We need to help them build their comfort in the digital space and build their expertise so that they can make informed decisions,” Barry says.

 

The work

“We’ve gone up the food chain, I would say,” reflects Joyce.

When Commonwealth Bank first hired White in 2006, it was to transform its website. But White’s responsibilities quickly grew. “Over the years, we have helped to reinvent their online customer experience – far beyond the website,” explains one of the agency’s newest recruits, Brendan Fearn.

“Providing strategic thought leadership, we have achieved triumphs together,” says Fearn, head of marketing. “The drive for customer service and technology firsts has been the lifeblood of the relationship with CommBank.”

White’s best known, and most awarded piece of work, is the Property Guide App.

 

The culture

Throughout the changes White has endured there is one core factor that remains untouched: its brand. “From day one, it’s been a family operation and the culture’s always been important,” says Joyce.

To articulate White’s brand the team came up with what it calls the “five truths”, an acronym of ‘white’: Why, hi, I, try and eye.

“‘Why’ is about identifying what the real problem we’re trying to solve is,” Barry explains. “‘Hi’ is really about how we do things. We say ‘Hi’ and ‘Thank you’. Then we have ‘I’, which is the idea that everyone at White is White’s point of difference. ‘Try’ is about innovation and the fact it doesn’t just happen. Then ‘Eye’ is just about the eye for detail.”

White takes its culture and people seriously. So much so that the agency has its own recruiter who is constantly pipelining future staff. “It means we have the same talent manager mapping the agency. They understand the machinations of the business and are building relationships with the best people for when we to need to hire,” Sarah Salkild, director of people and culture, enthuses.

The ‘sexy’ ad industry is known to offer equally sexy benefits and perks but Salkild firmly believes more is needed to attract and retain top notch staff. So while the agency does offer half-days in summer and sleep-ins on Mondays in winter, Salkild’s focus is on professional development.

White also contradicts Adland’s infamously high churn rate.  The agency’s ranks are full of staff, including Park, Barry, Salkild and Joyce, who have been there six-years plus.

 

The future

When growth occurs rapidly it tests the mettle of even the strongest agency and at White its growing pains materialised as a lack of space. To house White’s 120-strong team, the agency will move to a new office in Kent Street this year. 

“From my point of view, the challenge is how to retain that culture the more you grow,” Joyce says.

2013 for White is all about bedding down its new clients and boosting the agency’s profile. Adland, you best get set for a lot of White noise.

 

The history

2003

– With two people and one desk, The White Agency is born in Rozelle, Sydney.

2004

– Within 12 months of launch, The White Agency opens a second office in Melbourne.

2005

– Mike Barry, our current Creative Director, starts at The White Agency.

2006

– Commonwealth Bank appoints The White Agency to redevelop cba.com.au, Australia’s largest consumer banking website.

2007

– Miles Joyce is appointed CEO. In July, STW takes a 49% stake to bolster their digital capabilities.

2009

– Sandy Park promoted to Managing Director across both the Sydney and Melbourne offices.

2011

– Andrew Davenport  is lured to take up the Client Services Director role from the UK.

– The agency grows to over 100 people.

The White Agency designs the Property Guide app for Commonwealth Bank, winning a string of awards including:

  • Cannes Silver Lion ‚Äê Best use of mobile
  • Midas Awards ‚Äê Best use of medium (Gold) and Products and Services ‚Äê Digital and Interactive in the banking category (Gold)
  • ADMA ‚Äê Effectiveness in Lending and Credit (Bronze); ‘Apps and New  Development’ (Silver) and ‘Mobile’ (Silver)
  • W3 Awards ‚Äê ‘Financial  Services’ (Gold) and ‘Finance’ (Silver)
  • Amber Award
  • IAB Award ‚Äê Best Brand Destination’  and Rich Media and Digital Video’
  • AIMIA Award ‚Äê ‘Best of Best’; ‘Best Mobile Marketing’ (Winner) and ‘Best Financial Service’ (Winner)

2012

– The White Agency has one of its most successful years to date, winning the Lion, BlueScope Steel and Panasonic accounts.

– Brian Dargan is appointed as Strategic Director and Lucas Challamel as Technical Director.

– Founding partner Craig Galvin departs to explore new challenges.

2013

– The White Agency prepares to move to a new office at 1 Kent Street in July.

– Brendan Fearn is appointed as Head of Marketing.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Women In Media Profile: Danni Wright
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Danni Wright

We'd be headlining Danni Wright's Women in Media profile the "Wright stuff" if it wasn't utterly predictable and naff.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Industry Generates A Record $10.5m For Social Impact
  • Media

Industry Generates A Record $10.5m For Social Impact

UnLtd, the media, marketing and creative industry’s social purpose organisation has announced a total industry contribution of $10.5m to social impact in FY18. The total value of funds, services, inventory and time donated by the media, marketing and creative industry increased by 21per cent compared to the previous financial year due to a growth in […]

Posterscope Promotes Two
  • Media

Posterscope Promotes Two

Posterscope, Dentsu Aegis Network’s specialist out-of-home agency, has promoted Ryan Hedditch to the newly created position of national head of strategy and Samantha Summers to Sydney Group Business Director. In his new role, Hedditch is charged with driving the continual improvement and transformation of the Posterscope offering to clients and partners. Summers’ promotion will see her lead […]

Outbrain Accelerates Growth With APAC Promotions
  • Media

Outbrain Accelerates Growth With APAC Promotions

Native discovery platformOutbrain has announced several movements in its regional leadership team, with plans to make more new hires. This comes on the heels of two senior appointments it made in February, after closing a record year in the region with expansion into new markets. Yoav Tourel has been promoted to head of sales for […]

Clems Syd & Extra GUM Unveil YouTube Digital Stage
  • Media

Clems Syd & Extra GUM Unveil YouTube Digital Stage

YouTube EXTRA Gum has launched EXTRA Support Acts, a program created to support Australia’s up and coming musicians by transforming pre-roll ads on YouTube into a digital support stage. It has been created in partnership with Clemenger BBDO Sydney as creative lead, Universal Music Australia and BRING for talent and music strategy and content, MediaCom and YouTube. The […]

OMD Australia Tops 2018 RECMA Rankings
  • Media

OMD Australia Tops 2018 RECMA Rankings

OMD Australia has taken the top spot for Australia’s Number 1 media agency in size, according to RECMA’s 2018 ‘Overall Activity Volume Rankings’ report released last week. Additionally, the company was named first in profile classification with a dominant profile for the 3rd consecutive year, along with vitality ranking and structure ranking. Furthermore, OMD Australia was also named […]

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey
  • Media

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey

B&T's editor coincidentally spilled honey on his shirt while typing this. And by typing, we mean copy and pasting.

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less   
  • Advertising
  • Media

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less  

Y&R wins Best&Less amid rumours the clothing shop its changing name to 'Somewhat OK&Reasonably cheap'.

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay

B&T's Women in Media profiles are like a wave washing over you. Even more so if an actual wave washes over you.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)

In this opinion piece, SalesPreso co-founder and CMO Joel Thomson (pictured below) explains how B2B companies can use their data more effectively and deliver a personalised customer experience that matches their B2C counterparts. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the EU’s recent GDPR legislation, this year has prompted individuals all over the world to consider […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio

Not one to rest on its laurels, M&C Saatchi unveils new production studio it hasn't called 'Not One To Rest On Laurels'.

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’

Yesterday at TedX Melbourne the team behind award-winning, Melbourne-based agency Your Creative launched their new tech venture Hassl, the project management platform taking on Trello and the likes. With the belief there was a better design solution to project management, the platform has been developed over the last two years in collaboration with their clients. […]

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly
  • Media

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly

It's one of the ABC's edgier, controversial shows, but Tom Ballard's proven too edgy and controversial for ABC chiefs.

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership
  • Advertising
  • Media

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership

Global discovery platform Taboola has announced a strategic partnership with Wider Planet, Korea’s largest demand-side and data management platform. The partnership builds on Taboola’s programmatic efforts in Asia-Pacific, and will bring together Korea’s largest demand platform for agencies and brands to provide access to Taboola’s global audience through premium publisher placements. The partnership means advertisers […]

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients
  • Marketing

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients

The Haus announces two new client wins. Admittedly, not as good as winning three, but far better than losing four.