Can there ever be enough wisdom shared within the world of adland? We didn’t think so, either.
And that’s why we’re here with one of the 2013 winners of 30 Under 30 presented by Vevo!
Gary Elphick snagged one of the specialist awards when he entered the 30 Under 30 presented by Vevo. At the time he was an ‘ad guy’ at Tongue and has since rose to CEO of Disruptsports.
Check out his interview below!
B&T: What category did you apply for?
Gary Elphick: Oh, it was a time ago. I’m pretty sure it was in mobile and technology, they were and are my passions.
B&T: What inspired you to apply?
GE: The area was relatively new back then and I was incredibly passionate about mobile and all things technology, both at work and outside in my spare time. I look back now with hindsight and whilst I was afforded a lot of opportunities at work, I felt like the industry as a whole was not moving as fast as it could or taking advantage of the opportunities mobile and the broader technology landscape (outside of Facebook ads) was affording us to connect with people, create meaningful utility and brand experiences. So part of it was, the hope I could do my small part to elevate that and get people to listen.
Looking back now the industry has moved a lot, however it didn’t happen overnight and I hope there’s some new 20 somethings trying to scratch that itch and push their companies to utilise the new emerging technologies. It’s hard at that age I think to really believe in something but not necessarily have the tenure or experience to give you the confidence to push back on the status quo, so I think part of it was to give me that confidence in the broader (and older) agency setting.
B&T: In the short term, how did winning the award impact your career?
GE: I think my MD took me for lunch, that was about it ha (we’re still friends to this day and I treat him as a mentor despite having not worked together for nearly 10 years) – shout out to John Du Vernet.
It did give me the confidence to pursue the areas I was passionate about and I think it gave the agency some direction on the work to pursue. I ended up seconding to a handset manufacture as brand manager and then later leading the apps department inside that manufacture for the agency, before going on seconding into a Telco in a similar capacity, I enjoyed the variability of these roles working on areas I was passionate about and ultimately having a great impact on the business output itself.
Eventually I went on to start to start my own business(es) in ad-land, the first shortly after 30u30 failed (but I learnt and networked a lot), the second Disrupt runs globally in the US, UK and Australia and MiAmerchandise.com we’ve been working to roll out through adland for the last few years.
For me, confidence building is incremental and 30u30 certainly had a part to play in that
B&T: How did it impact your career long term?
GE: I followed my passions with mobile and tech and when I saw an opportunity within a sector of adland that was being underutilised I thought well no one else seems to be paying attention, ‘if not me then who?’
Strangely it was a different sector, I saw clients spending a lot on promotional materials (swag) for staff, events and competitions. We had to order thousands of items in bulk from overseas, we had boxes and boxes of left overs that went to landfill, the prices were inflated, the POs manually made and the lead times super long.
I knew I could do things better and started working on a localised, distributed just-in-time manufacturing platform linking front-end ordering platforms like Shopify, Magento and internal company ordering platform directly to the machinery itself inside manufactures and printers all over Australia (and eventually the US and Europe), it meant that clients, staff, art teams and production could design and order items and within a few minutes those items were being printed via API through a network of printers as close to where they were going to be used as possible.
An event in the LA? Great they will be printed in the next 15 minutes in LA, without any human interaction, and arrive there in 2 days – no more stock, no overseas shipping, no more bulk ordering from China and with the ability to order one item as a time there was no more wastage in the supply chain. MiAmerchandise.com was born.
We eventually went on to be contestants and receive an offer (we turned down) on Shark tank and I moved to the US for a while.
Hindsight it a wonderful thing, building that confidence over my 20s and in part to winning 30u30 gave me the confident to pursue Disrupt and MiAmerchandise.com and to realise if you want to see the future you have to the one to go and make it.
B&T: Have you applied for any adland awards since 30 Under 30? If so, how did your experience with 30 Under 30 influence this?
GE: Not specifically in adland like Cairns, I did go on to win a couple in the start-up space (Young Entrepreneur or the year, Optus Australian start up of the year in 2016) and then later in the promotional products industry as new supplier of the year (APPA). Awards themselves don’t win business, but they do help open the door. It shows you’re serious, that you care about your clients, their results and what you are building
B&T: What’s something you particularly like about how adland has changed over the past decade?
GE: I like the embracing of technology, not only to ‘sell’ but to tell stories and create brand utility, if a brand helps enhance my experience I’ll reward them with my $$.
We also have seen companies and agencies we partner with at MiAmerchandise.com for on-demand merchandise, see greater benefits to society from lowering carbon footprints though removing a lot of shipping and removing that wastage, its been great to the clients, agencies and promotional distributors look at more useful utility than just nick-nacks and for them to be more holistically aware of the environment, a lot of it comes from changing consumer demands however a lot is driven by clients and by solutions such as ours being available. I also like the use of data and how the landscape is evolving, for me the marketing and media agencies should be an extension of the business, not only to hope they hit the mark with their advertising but to also take an active role in the business/client they are supporting.
Using their understanding of the business and communications to inform product development, to have an influence on pricing models, customer segments and ultimately participate in reviewing business performance in line with the comms strategy they are responsible for. I still feel more needs to be done however its great to see more of that happening.
B&T: Where does adland still have room for improvement?
GE: I guess I’m more of an outsider now however.
From a client perspective, I still feel there is more to be done to connect agencies to the clients and the business outputs so they are an extension of the business team not an outsourced team.
From an agency perspective, I feel the model of paying for hours needs a bit of shake up, how can you tie input to output more? (which I have seen some agencies do who are serving growth stage scale up companies) or for agencies to be working on creating their own products and platforms to better monetize their IP? There’s a lot of value being left on the table in the traditional model.
I still think more could be done in the promotional products space by adland to provide better utility and by having more responsibly for what is being given away to ensure clients are providing utility, maximising long-term impact and minimise what goes into landfill.
B&T: What message do you have for this year’s entrants?
GE: If you’re considering entering its likely because you feel you have something important to say.
If you don’t feel the world is listening, then it’s your time – if not you, then who? Scratch that itch.
However, you MUST be under the age of 30 on the day of the event (Wednesday 29 March) to be in the running. So, be sure to include your ID and profile photo with your entry.
Oh, and please save your entry in a Word doc in case so many of you jump onto the awards portal that it crashes. It’s better to be safe than sorry!