Thicker Than Water: B&T Explores Adland’s Family Connections With Half Dome

  • Joe Tom Frazer as kids cropped
  • Joe Frazer, Will Harms and Tom Frazer 2
1 / 2

Advertising has its fair share of famous familial connections — Charles and Maurice, for instance. But, in the days of easy international travel and the constant one-in, one-out of Aussies, poms and Americans in advertising, it might be surprising to see siblings working at the same agency.

Lead image L-R: Joe & Tom Frazer as children.

But at Half Dome, that’s exactly what we have. The agency’s co-founders Joe and Tom Frazer serve as the head of growth and managing director, respectively.

Now, to be clear, we’re not celebrating nepotism here at B&T. We’re just shining a light on the potentially tense Sunday dinner conversations when budgets aren’t met and clients aren’t happy.

Here is the Frazer brothers’ take on founding and running their own agency.

B&T: As co-founders how did you start the business?

We started the business with our best mate Will Harms. It was fairly organic and we were super lucky that a lot of the risk was taken out of it, with the business being cash flow positive from day one on the back of a couple of key foundation partners.

Were other family members involved or supportive?

Over the journey, our families have been a massive support for us, and have contributed in their own way. Jock Frazer (our dad) was our original copywriter – catching any spelling or grammar mistakes in pitch documents. Kate Frazer (our sister) ran our Mental Health First Aid training and even did a stint in a learning and development role at Half Dome for a period. On Will’s side, Michael (his dad) is even more involved, having a seat on the Board and working closely with the business from day one. It is a real family affair!

Is your family bond a competitive advantage?

100 per cent, I think it is a real point of difference in the sense that there is a finality about the strength of relationships and a deep understanding of strengths and weaknesses that goes beyond a couple of years of working together. There’s insight you simply can’t pick up from a colleague that you can from a family member and often we can find ourselves in lockstep without having to even align on things. Especially through COVID years and navigating the move back toward in-office hours, this was a huge leg up.

Does the culture of the agency reflect your family values or personality?

There are aspects of Half Dome that are a reflection of the founders, and the values we hold, for sure. I think that entrepreneurial spirit and desire to colour outside the lines and ‘Blow Things Up’ was the impetus for starting Half Dome initially and is the essence of what has always made Half Dome special. This is the ‘secret sauce’ we spend our lives trying to codify as we scale.

Do clients respond to family values?

100 per cent! Our business model isn’t to have 500 clients. It is to have 20-30 brands who share a challenger mindset and want to work with a like-minded partner to push the boat out. In this way, our clients and Half Dome have largely become a reflection of one another.

One other thing we have been militant on as we have gone through this journey is regularly reviewing these partnerships to ensure we are only pitching for, and working with clients who are hard on the work (we love that) but soft on the people.

We are willing to engage in adult conversations with a partner about what success looks like and then willing to work bloody hard to bring that to life.

Does it help you recruit and retain great talent?

I don’t necessarily think the brotherly element changes our recruiting capability as much as the impact of having founders who also work in roles in the business. I will be the first one to say that sometimes it is an odd dynamic for our staff to see an owner playing a specific role. It creates some grey areas, and it means we all probably step outside the lanes to try and get things done at times.

Certain types of people love that environment, and like tackling challenges at face value to deliver the best outcome. Where we have seen less success, and something we are increasingly open with individuals about before they start at Half Dome, is that people who find comfort in hierarchy and staying in their lane – may not see as much success in our fast-paced agency.

When you get home or attend a family event do you have a no-work talk rule?

We used to!

But honestly, I think we are at the stage of our lives where everyone’s work life and home life are bleeding together – often our family are interested in what is going on, so we have relaxed that one!

Any fun stories at family Christmas that impact your work life?

Fun fact about the Frazers, we actually do a themed Christmas every year, so whoever is hosting nominates a country – then we look to recreate the ambience, and food from that region for all of Christmas Day. Over the years this has become an arms race – at our most recent Christmas Day, we had a 12-course Mexican Fiesta with paired drinks for each course.

In summary, this just impacts what type of liquor Tom is sporting a hangover from on the 27th.

What, if any, negatives does the family connection bring? Can it create any tension in the workplace?

I don’t necessarily think the family element is tough for Tom or I per se, but I do think it can be hard for people who work around family dynamics to navigate them at times. On the whole, I think the positives outweigh the challenges for sure!

Please login with linkedin to comment

Half Dome

Latest News

Marc Collister: AI & Automation Set To Revolutionise Creativity In 2024
  • Opinion

Marc Collister: AI & Automation Set To Revolutionise Creativity In 2024

Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]


by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Reddit Recap Reveals That Aussies Went Nuts For The Tillies, Eurovision And, Erm, Finance
  • Technology

Reddit Recap Reveals That Aussies Went Nuts For The Tillies, Eurovision And, Erm, Finance

Reddit’s annual Recap report has revealed the issues and moments that captured Australia’s collective mind over 2023 with, naturally, the Matildas featuring high on the list. The inaugural Australia-hosted Women’s World Cup saw Aussies glued to the footy (or, indeed soccer) with one enterprising user capturing the moment that Cortnee Vine scored the winner against […]

Zeno Group Australia Bolsters Client Offerings With An Expanded Creative Services Portfolio & New Senior Leader
  • Marketing

Zeno Group Australia Bolsters Client Offerings With An Expanded Creative Services Portfolio & New Senior Leader

Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]

Spikes Asia Announces Its 2024 Jury Line-Up
  • Marketing

Spikes Asia Announces Its 2024 Jury Line-Up

Spikes Asia, APAC’s most prestigious and sought-after Award for creativity and marketing effectiveness, has revealed its 2024 Jury line-up today. The 93 industry experts from across 18 markets represent APAC’s leading talent from a diverse range of disciplines. 2024 sees the highest representation from brands, including Budweiser, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and, for the first […]

Assembled Media Inks TikTok Creator Campaign for BIC
  • Campaigns

Assembled Media Inks TikTok Creator Campaign for BIC

Assembled Media, is drawing upon the creative power of TikTok Creator Marketplace to help generate unique, impactful content for iconic stationery brand, BIC. The social activation campaign titled ‘A Pen for Every Side of You’ promotes the flexibility of BIC’s 4 Colours pen and is active nationwide on the BIC Stationery TikTok account. The campaign […]

Big data and analytics visualization technology with scientist analyzing information structure on screen with machine learning to extract predictions for business, finance, internet of things
  • Media

IAB Launches Fourth Module In Its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series

IAB Australia has launched ‘Evolution in Market Mix Modelling’, the fourth module in its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series, which has been developed by IAB Australia’s Ad Effectiveness Council. The module explores what is driving the increased use of MMM and how the technique is evolving with advances in computing power and machine learning to provide […]

Aerial view of a coal fired power station with large cooling towers emitting co2 into the atmosphere. With its lights already turned on the power station is illuminated in moody twilight.
  • Media

Scope3 Expands Carbon Measurement Capabilities To Include DOOH Advertising

Scope3, the collaborative sustainability platform leading the decarbonisation of media and advertising,  announced the addition of digital out-of-home (DOOH) to its emissions measurement. With DOOH ad spending predicted to grow from $17B in 2023 to nearly $24B by 2028, measuring this channel brings us one step closer to understanding the total impact of digital advertising […]

January 14, 2023 - New York, New York, USA: 2023 NRF Big Show press conference with Composition 2024 NRF Singapore.    Photo by Ian Wagreich / © Ian Wagreich Photography
  • Marketing

Now Open For Registration – NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific

NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific, is now open for online registrations for the main conference. Jointly organized by the National Retail Federation and Comexposium, Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific will take place from 11 – 13 June, 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and is expected to draw thousands […]

DBC2 Appoints Jason Fisher To Newly Created Role Of CEO
  • Marketing

DBC2 Appoints Jason Fisher To Newly Created Role Of CEO

Following a period of significant client growth, leading auto marketing agency, DBC2 has appointed Jason Fisher (lead image) to the newly created role of CEO. The appointment is part of DBC2’s long term growth strategy ahead of the agency announcing a brand refresh and expanded proposition in early-2024. As a new shareholder of the business, […]

Three New Hires At Amplify
  • Marketing

Three New Hires At Amplify

Extra pressure on Amplify's Nescafé Blend 43 catering tin today with the arrival of three new recruits.

Boomtown’s Final Masterclass Of 2023 Attended By Almost 100 Media Reps
  • Media

Boomtown’s Final Masterclass Of 2023 Attended By Almost 100 Media Reps

Don’t treat regional media as a charity, but a real growth opportunity: That’s the message from Boomtown’s final masterclass of 2023, attended by almost 100 media industry representatives from across the nation. The masterclass was part of a series of educational sessions, delivered by Boomtown, the media collective championing advertising in regional Australia. The sessions […]