Chris Maxwell launches Lution, partners with Nick Garrett and multiple foundation clients

Former CUB marketing director Chris Maxwell has launched a new business called Lution with former Clemenger BBDO CEO Nick Garrett, US-based former CMO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Andy Gibson, and founder of Present Company, Marty Wirth also involved.

Lution founder and managing director Chris Maxwell

Lution aims to help brands plan and implement an in-house agency to bring core digital, marketing and media capabilities closer to the business. Maxwell is the founder and MD while Garrett takes the role of creative leadership, Gibson heads up the brand and CMO advisory and Wirth looks over strategy and growth.

Founding clients include Betfair, MYOB, MightyCraft, Jetty Road Brewery, Park SSC and ENGO.

According to the website, “Brand understanding, ownership, transparency, speed to market and reduced costs are just some of the benefits to bringing core capabilities in-house.” It also states that, “…building in-house capability leads to enhanced effectiveness, improved efficiency and importantly cultural invigoration with a new creative energy permeating the team.”

Garrett, a former winner of the Mumbrella Awards Industry Leader of the Year and the driving force behind the resurgence of Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, and before that, Colenso BBDO in New Zealand, left Clemenger Group in August 2019.

Lution’s website pitch

Maxwell, meanwhile, departed CUB in December 2019, having spent almost 12 years in the business directly, holding positions including marketing director – classic & domestic premium brands, general manager – media, digital, partnerships & hospitality, and head of marketing services & integrated communications.

He also spent over two years at then parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev prior to it selling CUB to Asahi Group. There, he started Speakeasy Studio, an in-house digital agency for CUB and also took on APAC roles.

In an interview with Mumbrella, Maxwell believed the opportunity in Australia was big, and would follow the US lead.

“In 2018 the ANA in the US released a report stating that 78% of marketers in the US were working with an in-house agency of some kind,” he said. “That was up from 42% in 2008, so in 10 years the penetration has almost doubled and nearly four in five businesses have an in-house agency. If that’s anything to go by I think this model has huge growth ahead of it in Australia and we’re hoping to help more marketers discover the benefits of the model.”

Maxwell attributed a Mumbrella event in late 2019 to helping build his confidence in the business model.

“When I built the in-house agency at CUB back in 2017, it was transformational for the business and I became a firm believer in the in-house model,” Maxwell told Mumbrella. “In late 2019 I was invited to a Mumbrella retreat in Tasmania with a lot of other senior marketers, we had a roundtable discussion and one of the topics we discussed was in-house agencies.

“There was so much interest in the in-house model and how we had built our team at CUB that I realised there’s a real need in the market for a business with experience in the model to help marketers navigate the complexities and show people how it really works. So you could say the idea for the business has roots at a Mumbrella event.”

Garrett added, “I got excited when Chris came to me with his idea because I genuinely believe it is an opportunity for positive change in the industry I love, hence I became a partner and joined the board. The wealth of talent has never been greater and many of the smartest and most passionate people are now either working for themselves or helping grow independent offers and we are really excited to see where the new breed of indies and creative consultancies can go.

Betfair are one of the foundation clients

Gibson noted, “When I see Chris talk about what he believes in and how confident he is in the fact that he can help clients produce better work at a far more effective cost, I find it infectious. I just couldn’t help but want to get involved in something this transformational. It’s very exciting and I believe we’re on the cusp of creating a new future.”

In addition, Lution will bring in a range of other industry experts regularly including Denise McKeon, former production lead at Clemenger BBDO, Stephen Hunt, former managing director of Universal Music Australia who also launched TubeMogul in Australia, Ben Grace, former CTO of Havas Australia, business owner and marketing automation expert Josh Barter and former head of content and production at Sportsbet, Barney Howells.

For an in-depth Q&A with Maxwell, click here


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