Industry full of ‘bullshit’ and people who like the sound of their own voice, says Hans Hulsbosch

In the Company of CEOs 2

L:R Tim Addington, Cameron Kerr, Gavin Smith and Hans Hulsbosch

Hans Hulsbosch has branded the advertising industry full of “bullshit” with too many people, too fond of the sound of their own voice.

The founder of the design agency that carries his name said there was strength in staying silent and only entering a conversation when you have something meaningful to say.

Speaking at the Mumbrella360 conference, on the importance of forming a strong bond with CEOs, Hulsbosch said in such a time poor world, it is more beneficial to quickly get to the point.

“I am always very brief… and allow others to have their say,” he said. “There is so much bullshit in our business and it’s amazing how many people like to hear the sound of their own voice and in fact have nothing to say.

“There is a lot of power in staying silent and only answer when you can add real value.

“I’ve seen ad agencies make major screw ups by walking into meetings with 120 slides of strategy only to find they lose the CEO numerous times during the presentation. I have seen them walk out of the room.”

Hulsbosch said the CEOs of agencies and clients need to be sensitive and respect towards each other’s postitioning.

“Building a relationship is paramount. If the relationship is great, the work is great. It’s that simple, they go hand in hand,” he said, adding that passion was also imperative.

He said creating or designing a brand is a “major disruptor” and can cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The CEO has a team, but it’s the CEO who signs off on it and they play a vital role in the development of the brand,” Hulsbosch said. “The change of a brand for a CEO is a personal thing and their badge. It’s an expression of their vision.”

Such issues need to be understood and respected by agencies, he told delegates.

Gavin Smith, chief executive of Hulsbosch client Royal Caribbean Australia, agreed that passion plays a key part in striking the right partnerships.

But rather than the client selecting which agency to work with, it was more a case of the agency selecting the client, he said.

Smith told the story of when he joined Royal Caribbean and tried to strike an agreement with Hulsbosch to “change the landscape of the Australian cruise industry”. But Hulsbosch initially refused.

“Hans told me he was not signing up because he said I didn’t want it badly enough, he said it doesn’t mean enough to you,” he said. “And then he got up and left. That is the passion.”

The two parties later struck a deal, he added.

Smith added it was important to have frank discussions with partners and admitted the trust is “tested every week and with every idea and reinterpretation of the brand”.

Hulsbosch said he has walked away from clients who have demonstrated only 60 per cent commitment, arguing there is “no point” continuing to work with someone who is not passionate.

Steve Jones


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