F.Y.I.

Brisbane’s Wonderkarma opens new branch in Vanuatu

Brisbane-based indie agency Wonderkarma has expanded into Vanuatu with Wonderkarma Vanuatu.

The announcement:

Codesign and cultural integration are at the heart of new creative agency Wonderkarma Vanuatu, international sibling agency to Brisbane-headquartered independent powerhouse Wonderkarma.

Established by Wonderkarma founder Nick Deane, who helms the agency from its Port Vila base, the Vanuatu operation was established to shine a light on the beauty and diversity of the island nation and its people and showcase it to the world.

Opening in January 2024, Wonderkarma Vanuatu has continued its Australian legacy of cultivating loyal client relationships, building its local client base to include international award-winning Vanuatu chocolate maker and exporter Gaston Chocolat, Vanuatu Tourism, Government of Vanuatu and Accor’s South Pacific Mgallery Collection.

“Vanuatu just won ‘friendliest country in the world’ again, topping the Happy Planet Index for the second time since the list was first published in 2006,” Deane said.

“The ranking is based on self-reported well-being scores, life expectancy, GDP per capita and carbon footprint – all the truly important things.

“Vanuatu is pure happiness and a perfect alignment for the Wonderkarma brand, which is built on nice people wanting to do good work with other nice people.”

Deane said central to the agency’s ethos was codesign and authentic integration with Vanuatu’s indigenous population [ni-Vanuatu].

“As an industry, we can’t keep enforcing Western ways of communicating and think that, just by translating, we’re doing the job,” Deane said.

“Communication is specific to country and culture and if agencies embraced codesign, they’d find there’s a more effective way of creating impactful communications, wherever you are in the world.

“The dream will be Wonderkarma Vanuatu becoming completely self-sufficient, run by ni-Vanuatu creating communications that talk to ni-Vanuatu.”

Wonderkarma’s approach to creative codesign is exemplified in its work for Gaston Chocolat, the pioneer of tree-to-bar chocolate-making in Vanuatu.

“Close to 300 farmers currently supply cocoa to Gaston Chocolat, which in turn creates its beautiful artisan chocolate and shares it with the world,” Deane said.

“Gaston Chocolat’s new packaging will feature the artwork of a dozen ni-Vanuatu artists whose incredible original creations will reach new audiences throughout Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States as part of Gaston’s refreshed brand campaign.”

Deane said Wonderkarma Vanuatu sought to bring a new level of expertise to brand and marketing in the South Pacific and increase local capacity and capability.

“Our goal is to show young ni-Vanuatu that there’s a future for them to stay in the country,” Deane said.

“We’re also looking to connect with young ni-Vanuatu who went abroad to study and provide a pathway for them to return home and have a rewarding creative career.”

Deane said his family’s cultural connection to the region was a key driver of the agency’s Vanuatu expansion.

“My husband Brad and I were looking for a sea change for our family, to achieve a better work-life balance,” Deane said.

“Brad spent much of his career living and working in the South Pacific and we’d narrowed our shortlist to French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

“They say the spirit of Vanuatu either speaks to you or it doesn’t and as soon as we got off the plane in Vanuatu, it hit me.”

In addition to establishing Wonderkarma Vanuatu, the couple purchased a 12-villa resort which is undergoing restoration for re-opening in August.

Wonderkarma’s Australian operation continues under the leadership of Wonderkarma veteran Tim Kho as general manager Brisbane and Alexa Pyke as general manager North Queensland, who lead a team of 20 across its Brisbane and Cairns agencies.

For more information, visit wonderkarma.com

Source: Aruga

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