MLA marketer Andrew Howie joins Westpac as head of advertising

Meat and Livestock Australia’s group marketing manager Andrew Howie is departing the company to join Westpac as the bank’s head of advertising.

In a statement provided to Mumbrella, Howie said: “Having banked with Westpac my whole life, the opportunity to join Australia’s first and oldest bank is something I am really excited about.

Howie is set to start at Westpac in mid-November

“I’m looking forward to joining the team to create globally recognised effective and creative advertising.”

During his four-year stint at MLA, Howie was at the helm of the brand’s controversial Australia Day campaigns which included ‘Operation Boomerang’ and last year’s ‘January campaign‘.

Operation Boomerang – which included a scene showing commandos smashing their way into a vegan’s home before using a flamethrower to burn his furniture – attracted controversy and generated more than 600 complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau. The ad, however, was cleared by the ASB on the grounds it did not promote violence towards vegans.

Earlier this year MLA created its most political ad yet, naming the work its “January campaign” and leaving out any reference to Australia Day.

Working closely with The Monkeys, MLA also released an annual Spring Lamb campaign, with 2016’s ad being about diversity and the role lamb plays in bringing families and friends together.

‘You Never Lamb Alone’ was also cleared by the ad watchdog despite claims it was racist towards white people.

This year’s Spring Lamb campaign was also criticised, this time for showing the non-meat-eating Hindu God Ganesha with a plate of meat.

At the time, Howie said the intention was not to offend or divide – but to showcase lamb’s ability to people together and its power in giving everyone a seat at the table.

“Since the late 1980s lamb has proved itself as the meat that brings people together. More recently under the banner of ‘You Never Lamb Alone’ we have continued to push the creative boundaries,” he said.

“In this latest campaign we are showing no matter your beliefs, background or persuasion, the one thing we can all come together and unite over, is lamb.”

Again, the highly complained about ad was cleared by the Ad Standards Board.

Howie and MLA were also known for its beef campaigns, moving its account from BMF to The Monkeys earlier this year.

This year, Bill Lawry, Kate Ritchie and Leisel Jones stared in ‘The Greatest Meat on Earth’ campaign.

Howie has also garnered a reputation for being an outspoken voice in the market.

In June, Howie stated “most marketers are crap” at a Mumbrella OMA event.

He argued most marketers “just want get paid and go home and pay off their mortgage and spend time with their family and then go to work the next day”.

“Strategically marketers aren’t great here, we don’t spend enough time with world-class planners.

“We change too often, we are not strategically led, we think that a great TV ad will solve our business problems,” Howie said.

“If you swim in a pack, or in the middle, you will probably get kicked in the face or in the leg, but you are not going to get eaten by a shark.

“But you are also stuck in a pack the whole time, but if you swim on the outsides or you swim out in front, then you’ve got some clear water and you can actually go places but you are more likely to get eaten by a shark.

“Most marketers don’t want to get eaten by a shark, they just want to get paid.”

DDB is currently Westpac’s creative agency of record.


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