James Procter ‑ founder and creative director, One Small Step Collective (formerly executive creative director of TBWAHong Kong) gets quizzed by creative director of Rumble Studios Johnny Green.
1. How long have you been back in Australia and what prompted your return from Hong Kong?
I’ve been back for nine months after four years in Asia. It was time. We loved the travel and the lifestyle and made such good friends we stayed longer than planned but Melbourne is home. An opportunity came up to start my own business One Small Step Collective with a friend so I took it.
2. What were your first impressions upon your return of the market environment here?
Everything is different but nothing has changed. We’ve seen such an amazing change in business and consumers but our industry has really struggled to keep up. We wanted to provide an alternative solution. The market is tough just like it is everywhere but that just sharpens the industry and separates good from average. Anyone can make money when times are easy.
3. What skill sets have you developed overseas and how have you been able to apply them here?
Asia is about speed. The closer to China you are, the faster it gets. Competition is super fierce ‑ there is always someone that will do it quicker and cheaper. Sometimes our job was to educate clients on differences that weren’t obvious ‑ mostly on the quality of thought, insights and ideas ‑ also, the difference between cheap and good value.
Speed is a big asset to bring back. Not just being responsive but using ‘time’ and ‘speed to market’ as a competitive advantage. Knowledge of the modern Asian consumer is also a big asset. It’s hard to understand a market until you’ve lived there. My ability to think in different markets and landscapes has definitely been enhanced.
4. Was there an adjustment period and how have you acclimatised?
Yes, anyone that’s worked in Melbourne knows it can be a bit insular ‑ part of what makes it great. We know and love our city, but it’s also hard to break back in after years away. Still, I think watching the Cats play at the MCG killed any doubts.
5. Per capita, Australia is a relatively small pond. How did you find being a smaller fish OS?
There are Australians in every expat community around the world so you are never alone. One thing I found to be true was that the brand of the ‘Australian Expat’ is well liked and respected. I think it’s like sports – we pride ourselves on punching above our weight and people see us as the hardworking underdog.
6. Can you compare and contrast the characteristics of the industry over there and in Australia?
That notion of fixed hierarchy and ‘face’ was a bit difficult. It’s absurd for us to think someone is above us or should be deferred to simply because they occupy a higher peg on the totem pole. One of our greatest assets is our meritocracy ‑ the best idea wins. We learn it from birth and it is a big part of our social selves. We have a very egalitarian nature that can sometimes clash with some cultures overseas.
Australia does some of the best communication in the world. As an industry, we have clients and marketers who fully appreciate that innovation and risk drive business.
Please login with linkedin to comment
Culture-leading publisher Highsnobiety continues to evolve its local operations with the appointment of Citizens of Culture as its strategic partner across media operations within Australia. Highsnobiety is a premium global brand dedicated to cultural pioneers, with work spanning across digital platforms, print media, documentaries, cutting edge events, a shopping platform and a full service creative […]
An investigation by British broadcaster ITV has found that Amazon is destroying millions of items in unsold or returned stock. The report specifically focuses on one of the 24 warehouses the company has in the UK. According to ITV News, the destroyed items are largely unused and new, either returned items or those which never […]
Australian fashion brand Witchery has partnered with B Corp GlamCorner as part of GlamCorner’s subscription box offering as the demand for everyday essentials soars. This partnership marks another milestone for the Australian fashion industry towards becoming more circular and introducing more paths to reduce textile waste. Customers nationally will be able to rent more of […]
The media, marketing and creative industries are being encouraged to host their own ‘Curry Club for COVID’ before 30th June to help meet the ambitious $100k target set by its organisers. Curry Club for COVID, which was conceived by long-time adtech executive Peter Bray, sales director at Impact, and is powered by industry social purpose organisation […]
The UnLtd Cup is returning for its tenth consecutive year, marking a decade of soccer shenanigans that’s raised nearly $500,000 for children’s mental health charity, KidsXpress. On July 22-23rd, 28 teams from across the industry will battle it out on the soccer field in the two-day tournament at Sydney University Sports and Fitness Centre, Darlington. […]
Australian-bred company Ultra Commerce has acquired New Zealand-based company Vesta eCommerce, a global software business providing leading product data management solutions. The recent acquisition is a significant move for the business, which is Australian born, owned, and headquartered, but has built out a global presence as it pursues rapid growth in the eCommerce market. Connecting […]
Canteen’s latest campaign features the combined talents of Director Luna Laure and creative agency Crater. The campaign strives to raise awareness for young people affected by cancer. The awareness campaign centres around Harry Barentson, who at 12 years of age found out his pregnant mum had cancer. The campaign aims to bring awareness to Canteen’s […]
In partnership with storytelling agency Enthral, AFL legend Kevin Sheedy has voiced a ‘Love Letter to Victoria’ using visuals to showcase the state’s natural beauty and culture. Victoria has been hit with the worst of the coronavirus pandemic compared with any other Aussie state, experiencing four lockdowns. Sheedy partnered with Enthral to share a love […]