Independent creative business Bullfrog bolsters its creative leadership team with the appointment of Elle Bullen (left in lead image) as executive creative director. This chapter in Bullfrog’s growth also sees the promotion of Dan Sparkes (right) to executive creative director.
Bullen was a founding partner of Sick Dog Wolf Man (SDWM) and after an incredible stint at the helm, she left the business and the advertising industry to focus on her health.
In 2019, Bullen was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with her second child. She underwent every type of treatment available to fight the disease before being re-diagnosed with cancer in December 2021.
After this rollercoaster journey and as she mentioned “a big thanks to leaping developments in medical science”, her ECD appointment at Bullfrog marks Bullen’s triumphant return to the industry.
Bullen said: “Getting sick was never part of my career plan, but if there’s one silver (or at least grey) lining to come from the cancer shit show, it’s a ruthless reshuffling of priorities. I’m thrilled to have found the things I now value most reflected in Bullfrog’s values, and in their flexibility and care throughout my rather unconventional return to work. Wonderful people doing world class work, in a place that isn’t afraid to challenge how things are done. Not so long ago a female ECD with two kids under five and an oncologist on speed dial would have been a myth. I feel incredibly well supported in busting it.”
The announcement follows a period of growth for the business, with a series of new partner wins and expanding service offerings within its current client portfolio.
“To say we’re excited to have Elle at Bullfrog is an understatement,” says Bullfrog’s CEO Dalton Henshaw. “With significant experience and a multitude of international awards under her belt, there’s no doubt that Elle is world-class. Alongside Elle we’ve been anxiously awaiting the thumbs up from her medical team; and in the short time since getting that green light she’s had a huge impact on our entire business. Her ability to bring people together and create an environment that is conducive to creative thinking across the board at Bullfrog is incredible to watch.”
Dalton has always been proud of the company’s focus on the health and wellbeing of its employees. Offering flexible working arrangements was always a central part of the company’s people and culture initiatives, well before the pandemic hit.
“At Bullfrog, the health and happiness of our people is paramount. I’m really proud that we have set foundations up in a way that allows our people to be open about the type of support or flexibility they need from us. We understand each person is unique, with their own things going on outside of the workplace. We’re so happy to be able to support Elle’s transition back to work in an industry that she cares so passionately for as well as recognise Dan’s exceptional efforts in driving our creative output. A promotion he very well deserves,” said Dalton Henshaw.
Bullen is highly regarded as one of Australia’s most awarded creative thinkers. The ex-SDWM founder has helped shape brands of all sizes while earning local and international accolades along the way. Some of her most iconic and innovative work includes Bonds ‘Boobs’, 7-Eleven BYO Cup Day, TAC ‘Zero Jumper’, Drinkwise ‘How to drink properly’, Scope ‘See the person’ and the Myer Give Registry.
Bullen is also one of a handful of women to be awarded a Gold Siren Award for radio advertising, and in 2016 and 2020 was recognised as Australian Creative of the Year at the B&T Women in Media Awards.
Sparkes has led the team’s creative output from the beginning and has been instrumental in contributing to the business’s rapid growth and recognition. Bringing in new business wins, both national and international awards and a series of Emerging, Victorian and Independent Agency of the Year finalist list appearances in the last twelve months, his promotion to executive creative director is well earned.
Sparkes’ most recognisable work includes Headspace’s ‘Reword’, Flybuys ‘Give a Flybuys’, AIA ‘All or Something’, Politix x Movember ‘The Mo-hair suit’, Maxibon’s ‘Hangryman’, Seek ‘Learnings from Seek Learning’, Schmackos ‘Canine Confessions and Slurpee ‘Sound Cups’.
In 2017 Sparkes was recognised in the top 25 global art directors according to the Gunn Report. And most recently has taken on a place as the director of rducation at the Melbourne Advertising Design and Creativity (MADC).
Elle Bullen’s announcement and Dan Sparkes’ promotion at Bullfrog mark the first of a series of senior management announcements expected to be released from the business over the coming months.
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