‘Be brave and back brave’: Special Group’s Lindsey Evans responds to ‘confused’ industry

Special Group’s founding partner and CEO, Lindsey Evans, has told a room of aspiring talent they need to “be brave and back brave” as a way of combating a confused industry.

“Our industry, more than many at the moment, feels confused and is confusing, and it is getting more confusing everyday,” she said. “Within that is the tendency to take the path to least resistance, the flight to safety, to the safe path.

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Evans said: ‘Our industry, more than many at the moment, feels confused’

“We owe it to ourselves and to the effort we all put into the industry, but more importantly we owe it to our future generations, to find another way. For me that other way is about bravery, it is about being brave, it’s about believing in brave and it is about backing brave,” Evans said.

Speaking at the Communications Council’s Hunting with One Bullet panel, Evans referenced Special Group’s Australian Open Uber Eats campaign, which took over the last commercial break to make viewers think they were watching the tennis game after the ad break.

Using this campaign as an example of bravery in advertising, Evans explained how it “broke every rule in terms of sponsorship”.

However, the bravery and success of the campaign did not come without challenges, she explained.

“We broke every rule in terms of a sponsorship and a partnership, we got access to players, access to the court, we broke rules around real time. Everything was a first in every way, but of course, now that’s done, you can’t just repeat it.

“As creative as we are, as soon as it is done, we have to find new ways to be brave.”

To execute to these brave ideas, Evans says the industry needs to put itself out there and not be afraid to ask hard questions.

“It is more important than ever that we can play judo with conventional wisdom and that we can ask the hard questions and that we can break the rules.

“We are not in the people pleasing business, we are in the engagement business, and brave means that we are willing to not always go the popular way. We are willing to have the hard conversations, knowing that what we are saying to a client may feel like it is not a good relationship in that moment, but we know that in time it will become the best thing that we ever did. That takes bravery.”

The CEO, who founded the independent agency in 2014, acknowledged that it can be hard for the industry to remain ahead of the game.

“It is easy for an industry that is ever changing and always unpredictable” to be “on the back foot”.

“It is easy to second guess yourself, it is easy to be a little bit like the deer caught in headlights and it is really easy to react in a way that is immediate and impulsive, but brave doesn’t do that, brave is not reactive, it is nimble.”

Evans told the room that the “roller coaster ride that we are sent on is the very thing that keeps [us] coming to work every day”, however, it does mean people need to accept “there is no work life balance”.

She spoke about an absence of work life balance, arguing it is “a blessing and a good thing”.

“Work is life and life is work and we make that work in those moments,” she added.


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