On the back of 12 months of sustained growth from a string of agency acquisitions and new business wins including Toyota, Maybelline New York and eBay, HERO has appointed industry luminary James Greet to the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer.
HERO was launched by Ben Lilley in 2020 after a rapid succession of agency acquisitions, integrating Lilley’s best-in-class specialist offerings into a single agency business across Australia and New Zealand, including McCANN Australia; B.B.E Technology, Data and Analytics; SMART Brand Innovation; The Red Republic Reputation Management; JSA Digital and Design; and Engine Room Productions.
Lilley’s first acquisition was McCann Australia, which he purchased from IPG in 2020. Under HERO, Lilley has migrated all acquisitions onto a single cloud technology platform designed and implemented by cloud services and infrastructure specialist iQ3 and SAP Business ByDesign consultant Acclimation, to bring together HERO’s independent creative, technology and media businesses into a single integrated offering for each HERO group client.
Greet has been working with HERO for the past 6 months in an advisory capacity. His new Chief Operating Officer role will support Lilley and Chief Financial Officer Zain Hoosen to further integrate HERO’s best-in-class marketing communications offerings and spur new organic growth opportunities for HERO and its clients. “James has built his career operating at the intersection of creativity, comms strategy and technology, just like HERO,” said Lilley. “His experience launching, growing and transforming wildly successful agency operations is precisely what we’ve been seeking to fuel our ambition to offer our clients of the very best integrated creative and technology business across Australia and New Zealand.”
“I’ve loved working with HERO as an advisor and now am thrilled to be stepping into this key new role,” said Greet. “HERO’s integrated offering across Australia and New Zealand is genuinely unique. Offering the agility and spirit of an award-winning independent network, integrated with the scale and intellectual capital of the world’s largest agency group, McCANN. HERO delivers the best of both worlds: local smarts at global scale. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the next stage of growth of this remarkable model, with creative, media, production, PR, data and technology all under the one roof.”
Possessing a unique background spanning Creative and Media Agencies in the U.K., Asia and Australia, Greet is one of Australia’s most experienced agency changemakers. Launching his career in London with creative powerhouses Lowe Howard-Spink and BBH, Greet’s first regional leadership role was with Saatchi’s China before landing in Australia in 2002 as CEO at OMD. He rebuilt the shrinking OMD business to become a market leader during his 5 years there seeing it crowned Media Agency of the Decade. Then as a regional CEO of Mindshare (across ANZ, Japan and Korea) Greet saw the agency double its size and become Mindshare Worldwide’s country of the year.
Greet’s appointment follows a string of major hires by Lilley over the past year, joining high-profile talent like Pat Baron, Simon McCrudden and Zain Hoosen. New hires included ex-Clemenger creative leaders CCO Ben Coulson, Josh Aitken and Willy Maitland, ex-BBH London ECD Psembi Kinstan, Client Services Director Simon Gawn, Executive Strategy Director Roshni Hegerman as and Senior Strategist Lucy Gavan. Lilley also tapped former Cowan CEO Dominic Walsh and CCO Bob Price to relaunch SMART as a brand innovation consultancy. And he added deep technology and data expertise with ex- AKQA/DT specialists and B.B.E founders Tim Evans, Adam Beaupeurt and Jarrah Kammoora.
“We have further acquisitions underway to continue to build out our best-in-class HERO offering and James will now also be a key part of this acquisitive growth and integration,” Lilley said. Organic growth will also continue to be a key focus. “Too many clients spend too much time juggling too many agencies,” said Lilley. “We’ve developed an operational and service model that provides a single point of contact for each client to our integrated group of best-in-class specialists, with a single job management and billing system that removes the layers of agency duplication and costs that can burden traditional agency rosters. This is something that is clearly already resonating with major clients and we expect to be able to make more announcements over the coming months,” Lilley said.
“A lot of the hard work has already been done for me, “added Greet. “HERO’s agencies operate under a single profit and loss across Australia and New Zealand, ensuring seamless collaboration without siloed decision-making or revenue tussles. And the total business runs with a single management team, made up of the leaders from each business offering. Our cloud technology is critical to delivering this model and will continue to evolve,” said Greet.
“But this doesn’t represent a shift from a creative core. The HERO model has been built around integrating and boosting the effectiveness of creativity. Creativity is the ultimate competitive advantage and the most powerful driver of marketing effectiveness. And with HERO’s Borderless Creativity, national award-winning talent is available to every brand and client, no matter where they may be based,” said Greet.