Andy Lark has heralded his resignation as the beginning of an exciting new entrepreneurial chapter in his life.
“It was a tough decision as I love it here but I have a view, it sounds all very corny, that you bore through your own life. So I sat down and said ‘it’s time for the next thing’,” he told B&T.
Lark broke the news this morning on his blog, The Daily Lark Blog, sending the trade press into overdrive.
Lark is one of Australia’s most high profile marketing directors, celebrated for socialising Australia’s largest bank and bringing innovative digital initiatives to the core of its marketing practices. He is also widely known for his numerous public speaking appearances.
“I feel like I’ve fit about four or five years into two actually,” he said.
He came to CommBank with a mission to relaunch the brand and, having ticked that box, says he is freeing himself up to take on new challenges.
“I came here to do a couple of very really specific things and have done those things and a bit more. As I reflected on two years in the job I just decided I was ready to go pursue new things.
“I got to the point where I thought: ‘I came here to relaunch the brand and I’ve done that, I came here to build momentum and lay the foundations in digital and social and I feel like I’ve done that, and re-engerise the marketing capability, and I feel like I’ve done that, and everyone agrees I’ve done it, so that’s good.
“I wanted to get back to pursuing some of the entrepreneurial stuff I’ve been working on.”
Lark was responsible for pitching the CommBank creative account in 2011, taking it away from San Francisco agency Goodby Silverstein Partners and awarding it to the Sydney-based M&C Saatchi in February 2012.
The ensuing brand campaign, ‘CommBank Can’ has become one of the most talked about campaigns in Australian banking history, commended widely for its positivity and ubiquity, and chastised, in one instance, for a controversial online execution around the London Olympic Games.
So what’s next for the CommBank marketing machine? “No idea,” says Lark. “You’d have to ask Vittoria.”
Vittoria Shortt, who comes from the role of chief executive of retail at Bankwest – a bank within the CommBank family – will step into Lark’s role in the interim.
“She’s wonderful, a great leader of people and knows banking inside out so I think it’s a really good idea from the team here and a really great person to put in the role. My sole short-term focus for the future will be supporting her.”
But it's clear the bank's agency partners will miss the popular Lark. Kat Thomas, MD of PR agency One Green Bean – the agency which has been retained by CommBank for four years handling consumer PR and social media – had a very positive working relationship with him.
Thomas told B&T: "I haven't met many CMOs who can see the editorial currency of an idea in seconds. That, coupled with his vision to push boundaries across digital and social has given OGB huge opportunity to help shape CommBank's social strategy in the last two years.
"His passion for innovation and technology has been the driving force behind so many exciting projects we've been a part of, and it's no surprise that it's this same passion motivating him to explore his entrepreneurial interests.
"It's a big loss for many who work with him currently, us included, but I have no doubt Andy has something very exciting in the pipeline and I wish him all the very best."