Former Mediacom exec Rob Moore launches Volcano, a marketing agency for SMEs

Former general manager of Mediacom’s Melbourne office, Rob Moore, has launched Volcano, a marketing consultancy for the 2.3m local small to medium businesses that employ almost 70% of Australians, and contribute more than half of the country’s GDP, yet “are mostly ignored by agencies”.

Moore told Mumbrella the new agency aims to “serve communities, not corporations”, but it still “play[s] in all of the spaces you’d expect us to – media, PPC [pay-per-click], social, email, CRM [customer relationship management], CRO [conversion rate optimisation], e-commerce – and we do it well”.

Moore’s Volcano is an agency for SMEs

The venture is a new start for Moore, after his Mediacom role was made redundant in May last year. Four months ago, the agency entered into a settlement with the former executive, who commenced legal proceedings following his departure. He argued that the redundancy was not genuine, but instead a form of discrimination in response to his disclosure of a mental health condition.

Before his two and a half year stint at the Group M agency, Moore spent six years at Roadshow Films – including almost five years at deputy director of marketing across Australia and New Zealand – and a further six years at Publicis Groupe media agency, Starcom.

After more than 20 years’ experience both agency and client side, Moore, whose official role is now founder and managing director, said it was the right time to step out on his own.

Volcano was born of a set of experiences many people can relate to,” he said of the agency, which is already working with clients in the fitness, real estate and retail sectors.

“What I’m doing now isn’t working for me, I want to do something for myself, I know I can add some value.

“Making that initial commitment to yourself is actually the easy bit, it’s what comes next that’s hard. You have to stare down questions like ‘Am I good enough?’ and ‘What if the work isn’t any good?’ and ‘Where the hell do I start?’ After a period of pretty intense self-reflection I landed the concept for Volcano, knew it was what I wanted to do, and it has been forward momentum from there.”

When devising a brand name, Moore knew what he would avoid: words that exclude vowels, using numbers as though they are letters, and words ending in ‘-ify’.

“I had been playing with ‘Volcano’ for a while and then I discovered a quote from philosopher George Santayana and that was that. Here’s the quote: ‘Nobody ever believes in volcanoes until the lava overtakes them’,” he said. 

“This means a few things to me. It’s a metaphor for a world that can have its landscape permanently changed in an instant. It’s a warning about what happens when people get too comfortable or have their blinkers on. But it is also about possibility. There are so many businesses out there that could be super successful but, like a dormant volcano, they are unaware of their own potential.”

Volcano’s sweet spot is “in closing the loop between activation and strategy,” Moore explained. “Because SMEs are heavily focussed on channel performance it tends to dominate the agenda – effectively the tail ends up wagging the dog.”

With Volcano, Moore joins a group of former agency executives who have launched a consultancy in the middle of COVID-19. Mediacom colleagues Mike Deane (ex-chief strategy officer) and Tim Russell officially got Saintsmiths off the ground last month, and former Merkle MD Rebecca Tos started Rebecca Tos Consulting in April.

“Through COVID we took on some pro bono work, which gave us an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution right out of the gate,” Moore said.

“In such tough times for those businesses it is a bit trite to talk about yourself but I will say this: the experience of working with a client, where the impact of your work is so tangible, is hands down the most rewarding experience I’ve had in my career – and that is everything I had hoped to accomplish with Volcano.

“Sure rewards are nice, but what does it count for if it isn’t rewarding?”


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