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Creative industry Leader Interview - 5 minutes with...

Joe Maloney

Owner and Commercial Director, Rosie Lee

By Joanna Ray, Team Assistant  Mar 17th 2017
Chris Hirst - UK Chairman, and European and UK Group CEO, Havas

Career to date:

2012, Owner and Commercial Director, Rosie Lee
2010, Client Services Director, Rosie Lee
2005, Account Director, Rosie Lee
2003, Project Manager, Joshua

creativebrief: As Commercial Director of Rosie Lee what is your primary focus?

Joe Maloney: My role is a mix of disciplines - as commercial director I need to be constantly connected internally and externally, balancing commercial awareness with a strategic mindset, delivering the company plan and achieving the financial targets we set.

I make sure that the board and management team are kept informed of market opportunities and business development.

I try to keep my finger on the pulse of our industry, whilst carefully monitoring many aspects of the marketplace that help our company run smoothly, develop, and grow.

I have a high level of interaction with clients, employees, and suppliers across the world.

Longer term vision is a big part of it too- tight financial planning but with agility to enable consistent growth, trying to avoid obstacles that arise from our constantly moving market.

creativebrief: Please share a para on your career to date – specifically talking us through the high points.

Joe Maloney: I was always really interested in advertising but left school at 18 to play semi-professional football. I got badly injured. It was at that point that I embarked on a career in advertising. I actually wrote a blog on the subject of whether a degree is necessary in business.  I started out as a production assistant, at a big London agency. I loved the industry and the creative exposure, and it definitely felt like something I wanted to do. I worked really really hard to learn and improve and moved up through the ranks, getting promoted into more senior positions in Account Management and Client Services. Apart from all the tremendous projects I’ve been fortunate to be involved with, the two most positive and career defining moments to date have been when I joined Rosie Lee in 2006 and then when I was made partner in 2012.

‘DRoP! Multi-Brand Sneaker Store’ by Rosie Lee

creativebrief: What's unique about your agency / business? Why did you join Rosie Lee?

Joe Maloney: It was a good fit for me from the outset. Funnily enough, I was referred by a friend, and then had initial chats before there was actually a job. I was attracted by the clients and the work, in particular the strong ties to sport and football via Nike, Manchester United and Arsenal. It helped that I had some transferable expertise. I fell in love with the company and forged my position within the business, eventually becoming a Co-owner and Director. The big part for me was always feeling like I was moving - promotions, responsibility. I don’t think you always have to move company to experience great change.

The blend of disciplines, scalability and diversity of our work separates us from competitors, and our client and staff retention rates highlight the fact that we understand what makes a strong long term relationship. It’s also a really fun place to be.

We pride ourselves on working tremendously hard, but also for making time to enjoy, reflect and refocus - we have regular company days throughout the year where we stop work for a day or afternoon across all our offices at the same time. It’s a forum for us to communicate with staff on things like growth plans, important info and make general company announcements, and then do some fun team building exercises followed by some food. The last one we did was cocktail making followed by dinner.

creativebrief: Who are the people new to you (either within your business or externally) who have particularly impressed you in the last twelve months?

Joe Maloney: Internally we have really strengthened our teams across the board, and it has really impressed me how easy and seamless that has been; especially when you add in the complexities of international territories - each department has unique skills and every single staff member is helping to grow Rosie Lee along the way. The up weighted digital team have been great for example, bolstering concepts with real time proof of concepts and introducing more innovative ways to hero our creative.

Outside of our business we draw inspiration from loads of other creative industries like theatre, music and particularly art.  I went to the Rolling Stones exhibit at the Saatchi gallery and was impressed with the immersion and how it brought you into their world, and also visited the Story Garden in South Korea and thought it was very impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed the Jeff Koons exhibit last year, the one curated by Damien Hirst - I’m such a big fan.  Also, meeting Craig and Karl at OFFF Antwerp where we talked at the end of 2016. I like their unique style, and the variety of different projects they do around the world.

creativebrief: What has been your agency's best work in the last year?

Joe Maloney: What’s really impressed me has been the strength  and diversity of our campaigns in so many international territories and emerging markets - like Sole DXB in Dubai, Drop in Russia, Space Jam In the US and International Children’s Day in China.

One of the strengths we have as an agency is the ability to produce unique campaigns or activations that are both locally relevant, but globally consistent at the same time. Key to that is our understanding of the brand, consumers and the marketplace.

creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

Joe Maloney: There has been a lot of really strong work I think. A couple of things that come to mind: The ‘Unforgotten Soldiers’ work in New Zealand was provocative, and centred on such an important subject. I really enjoyed the ‘cutting everything in half’ campaign from last year too. I thought for such a limited budget it was a great example of a powerful concept that could be executed well without blowing the budget.

“The rise of growth hacking is already prevalent, and we are seeing products and services brought to market quicker and then adapted based on user interaction. That means support needs to be quicker, smarter and more focused. There is less money spent on huge campaigns and TV ads with more emphasis on reaching the right consumers through intelligent marketing rather than just creating a ‘firework’ moment.”

creativebrief: Who or what inspires you?

Joe Maloney: I’m inspired by lots of different things, but especially situations where you learn. Sport has had a profound effect on my attitude and career - I think you learn so much that is transferable into life and most certainly business, from dealing with different personalities, teamwork, how to overcome adversity as well as winning or losing as part of a team. I think one must realise other people are just as much a part of your success as you are of theirs.

Apart from a clear skill and talent, I also value fearlessness and resilience - so people like Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) that had to deal with countless injuries, and Tom Ford who started at the bottom and has created an incredible empire. Basically people that have gone through major setbacks and adversity to reach the top are inspirational to me.

creativebrief: How do you stay in-touch with the industry's best work and culturally relevant news?

Joe Maloney: It’s a real mixture of different touch points. We hire well so I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a load of culturally diverse, interesting staff in the office that are constantly bringing in fresh and exciting stories or reference points.

I always start my day checking various websites like Hypebeast, Complex and PSFK, online articles and forums etc. to see what’s going on in different territories and markets. 

Away from that, I try to get out and about as much as I can to see things in the flesh, whether it’s galleries, exhibits or shows. I meet up with friends, clients & other outside influences from many industries to get their insight, and to have a wider view of the world in general.

‘Air Max Day 2016’, Nike by Rosie Lee

creativebrief: What work or agency from outside the UK do you think is particularly influential?

Joe Maloney: As we do more and more work outside of the UK our partners become increasingly important for us. Ideas are only as strong as how they are brought to life. The quality level, speed and agility we work to means you need a real understanding almost immediately. We recently worked with a terrific brand experience company in the states called Gallagher on a Space Jam campaign with Jordan. Timings were tough and we had never worked together before but we trusted each other and the results speak for themselves. Similarly, Button Creations and Wispark in China have been able to do some amazing things for us and Air Max Day 2016 was one of the coolest projects we have been a part of.

creativebrief: What do you think are going to be the main challenges for agencies in the next two years?

Joe Maloney: Our industry moves so fast that, for me, one of the biggest challenges is always staying ahead. We need to be more agile now than ever, and prepared to switch focus in a heartbeat to get closer to the needs of our customers and the markets we operate in. Making sure you reach consumers in the right way is critical  here too.  There is so much more visibility into brands, and  people are far more discerning in that they make choices in different ways than they have done before - whether it’s because of a brand’s moral foundations, ethos, products, ambassadors or experiences. This means our ‘triggers’ or method of interaction needs to be multifaceted.

“One of the strengths we have as an agency is the ability to produce unique campaigns or activations that are both locally relevant, but globally consistent at the same time. Key to that is our understanding of the brand, consumers and the marketplace.”

creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next five years?

Joe Maloney: Everyone will have to respond faster. The rise of growth hacking is already prevalent, and we are seeing products and services brought to market quicker and then adapted based on user interaction. That means support needs to be quicker, smarter and more focused. There is less money spent on huge campaigns and TV ads with more emphasis on reaching the right consumers through intelligent marketing rather than just creating a ‘firework’ moment. Also, the importance of technology platforms in targeting relevant consumers will be big, for example the impact of TV advertising vs a Facebook ad / live streaming campaign and even the introduction of augmented reality. We did an interview recently with Future of Fashion about how online and offline retail has and will continue to evolve  to offer up richer experiences more akin to art galleries and theatre, incorporating the wider use of technology to enhance the journey and serve up fresh content.

creativebrief: What's your attitude to the 'traditional' agency review process? Do you think there is a better/more modern way?

Joe Maloney: I think it depends on the situation. It’s generally tough for agencies and clients. Choosing the right agency for you is about so much more than the perceived quality of work.

Sometimes reviews are done just to ‘shake the tree’ rather than because an agency has underperformed, and often in my experience pitches can be unfair if not handled properly e.g. the same time constraints/agency resources. If it’s fair, detailed and with clear objectives then I think they can be positive.

For me more of a progressive way is live trialling - the proof is in the pudding so to speak, and actually doing some work directly with an agency teaches you so much more. By running something small separately it allows one to gain an insight into ethics, values, how they work and think, not just how they present. These don’t even have to be live campaigns, but something committed and one to one between client and agency. It’s something we do here when we hire; rather than just going from a CV, we like short term contracts that become permanent after you have had a chance to test

‘Jordan Space Jam’ by Rosie Lee

creativebrief: What's the best agency review you've been involved in?

Joe Maloney: The best are definitely when a brand has a very defined sense of what they are doing and why they are doing it. Clear purpose yields the best results. 

With our new client Amorepacific, they scoured the world looking for a storytelling agency and through the whole process they were very clear on what they wanted.

C&A is another that comes to mind, where we beat big firms to win the work but every step was equal for all involved.

creativebrief: In what ways do you think the industry can change for the better?

Joe Maloney: I am definitely a huge advocate of more collaboration and partnership.

Agencies working with each other, rather than against, to create better work and push our industry forward. It’s an approach we take here, and I feel the results are always richer. We have noticed actually that this seems to be prevalent in America in particular, and have been impressed by what a collaborative market it is since we have been there.

An environment where you are constantly challenging each other, pushing ideas and leveraging a range of distinct skills can only be a positive if done properly.

“There is so much more visibility into brands, and  people far more discerning that they make choices in different ways than they have done before whether it’s the moral foundations, ethos, products, ambassadors or experiences. This means our ‘triggers’ or method of interaction needs to be multifaceted.”

creativebrief: What's the next big thing for Rosie Lee?

Joe Maloney: It’s a very big year for Rosie Lee. There are several really exciting ventures for us.

We recently opened our first office in the States, right in the heart of NYC. Things are going well there and we have already secured some great clients and projects, but there is a big focus on growing that as a territory in 2017, hiring more staff and doing even more amazing work.

Our move into the beauty sector has been great - we were thrilled to announce our partnership with Amorepacific which will run towards the end of the year - they are such a phenomenal brand with a rich heritage. It really gives us a great opportunity to explore that and bring it to the masses.

We have also decided to publish our values and guiding principles that we follow as a business. There is something quite cathartic and freeing about having that level of transparency with employees and the whole world. As I’ve said before, we are very open generally as a business and are looking forward to offering that insight.

Topic of the Moment

With increasing pressure on governments, do you think brands have a responsibility to step in and help local communities? How are you working with brands to help implement social good at a local level?

I think everyone has a responsibility for their community.

From what I have seen brands invest more in CSR, and they are more active in communities, using their resources for good. This doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

I believe if you can do anything at all to make a difference, no matter how small, then you should.

Here at RL, community is very important for us and over the years we have represented charities, running crews and local start ups for free, or at massively reduced rates - we pride ourselves on the mix of brands we work with and make sure that smaller companies like Hope & Anchor or Apples & Snakes are shown with equal focus alongside larger, global brands.

We have a very broad approach to discovering and selecting the right people for campaigns and constantly champion local ‘up and comers’ in our presentations and suggestions to brands - young, home grown talented people.

About the author

Joanna Ray, Team Assistant

Jo makes the office run like clockwork on a day-to-day basis, providing support to each of the individual teams.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanna-ray-8189a9a3