Klonhammer, McCreadie and Berthinussen launch new agency, backed by M&C Saatchi

TBWA Sydney’s ex executive creative director Gary McCreadie, Anomaly Amsterdam’s founding partner and CEO Hazelle Klonhammer, and M&C Saatchi’s former head of strategy Ross Berthinussen have joined forces to launch Ugly, a new creative agency with M&C Saatchi as a financial backer.

Gary McCreadie, Hazelle Klonhammer and Ross Berthinussen, the new Ugly team

In February, Mumbrella reported McCreadie was understood to be joining the M&C Saatchi group after departing TBWA, however a spokesperson confirmed it was instead to be a separate entity outside of the group, only partly funded by M&C Saatchi. 

A statement from Ugly said the new agency would reshape client and agency relationships and thrive on collaboration – “easy to claim, but hard to do, especially with traditional agency structiures, Ugly creates the right environment for creativity to thrive”.

Klonhammer – who has just returned to Australia after 20 years in Europe, during which time she led Anomaly Amsterdam, working with clients such as Nike, Converse and Johnnie Walker – said: “I see huge potential in Australia for a more progressive agency model that is stripped back, switched on, and straight up. We’re here for clients who want to work in a more human, collaborative and efficient way.”

Berthinussen told Mumbrella the agency would thrive working with challenger brands, or brands that aren’t currently at their best, and transforming them into powerhouses.

To do this, the agency will work with strategic and creative collaborators from outside the agency “depending on the problem at hand”, the statement said.

McCreadie – who spent the past three years as ECD at TBWA Sydney after two years at Host Sydney and eight years at BBH in London – said unlike many players in the market, Ugly would embrace mistakes and missteps, learn from them and then produce better work – which in turn would produce a culture less susceptible to burnout and staff churn.

“It’s not easy to love the game at the moment, a multitude of new pressures come thick and fast every day. Pressures of perfection, at speed, for less. So, if you create an environment that’s friendly and open, in which you can make mistakes and say dumb shit and not be judged, then creativity flows way more freely.”

Berthinussen said the agency would not always assume advertising is the answer, and would employ CX principles to solve problems.

Berthinussen: Making brands great again

“Starting with people’s experience of a brand allows us to pinpoint where creativity can have the most impact on our clients’ business. The answer may lie in the product or the experience around the brand. We don’t assume advertising is the answer,” he said.

Ugly will be based in Sydney’s Pyrmont and describes itself as “actively recruiting”.

Klonhammer confirmed the agency had a financial backing from M&C Saatchi, but said Ugly does not fall into the M&C group and will be independently led. It is not yet clear what  stake M&C holds in the agency.

Berthinussen spent the past two and a half years as head of strategy at M&C Saatchi Sydney, prior to which he spent nine years at BBH London with McCreadie.



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