‘Nobody gets in trouble for having a go’: CampaignLab’s director on growing a small agency

After bagging Mumbrella's CommsCon Award for Small Agency of the Year, CampaignLab's director Andy Scales talks to Mumbrella about staying true to the agency, finding the best talent and instilling a great culture.

What has been the biggest change for CampaignLab since winning Small Agency of the Year at Mumbrella’s CommsCon Awards in 2018?

Winning Small Agency of the Year at CommsCon 2018 has certainly helped put CampaignLab on the map. When you’re developing and delivering great work it’s only natural you will grow through word of mouth and referral. But winning Small Agency of the Year has helped give us a platform and attract interest from clients outside of our immediate circle of influence.

Since then, we’ve been on a positive trajectory. We’ve grown our team, bolstering key areas such as PR and digital marketing, and have invested heavily in our video production capabilities. We’ve also on-boarded some exciting new brands such as Fujifilm and delivered some of our best campaigns to date.

What are some of the biggest challenges CampaignLab has faced over the past year?

Well, we partied pretty hard after the awards night, so recovering from that was the immediate challenge.

In all seriousness though, we’re a fast-growing agency delivering epic campaigns, so maintaining that growth, while staying true to the type of work we do, has been the biggest challenge.

Recruiting the best talent has also been a challenge as we set the bar extremely high. While some of the big agencies might be able to carry some dead weight, for a smaller agency you just can’t afford to do it. To give you an example, we spent six months recruiting for one role. We had over a hundred applicants and interviewed as many as 30 people until we found the right person. It’s short-term pain for long-term gain.

Scales says culture is a ‘by-product’ of CampaignLab’s employees

How has CampaignLab kept its culture while growing at a rapid rate?

Culture is super important. But for us, it’s a by-product of the people that work here. To try and instil a culture from the top down feels too one dimensional.

What we have are some basic principles that shape the team. We believe in things like honesty, equality and being fearless. The last one is really important because, when you’re doing things that have never been done before, you have to take risks and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Nobody gets in trouble for having a go.

What importance does winning and entering awards have on the culture of an agency like CampaignLab?

To be recognised by the industry and your peers is always nice. There’s so much creativity coming out of Australian agencies that, to be shortlisted alongside them, is a testament in its own right.

Awards are also a great excuse to get the team together for a night out and celebrate the hard work we’ve all put in over the past year. Win, lose or draw we celebrate together and that’s important.

CampaignLab won Small Agency of the Year at Mumbrella’s CommsCon Awards last year

In terms of achievements, what are the highlights for CampaignLab in 2018?

It’s been an incredible year for the agency, so it’s difficult to pick one or two moments.

In terms of the work, some of the travel/tech campaigns we’ve executed, such as The Bali Bundle for OPPO or Fuji Island for Fujifilm are the ones we’re probably most proud of. Both required a lot of trust from the client and a collaborative approach to ensure their success. We’re fortunate to work with clients that aren’t scared to try new things.

In terms of company milestones, some of the awards and accolades we’ve won this year, such as CommsCon’s Small Agency of the Year certainly rank as key achievements. Based on the size of the agency, and our awards success, this led to Holmes Report indexing CampaignLab as ‘pound-for-pound’ the most creative PR Agency in the world, which was incredible.

Looking to 2019, what are your goals?

Obviously, we want to continue to grow. We’re not interested in being the biggest agency in Australia, but we’re keen to look at other overseas markets and expand that way.

Like many agencies, we’re also investing in technology and machine learning. Our approach is about ‘joining the conversation’ so anything that can help us predict tomorrow’s conversation will really help us shape our campaigns.

Other than that, we just want to keep creating killer campaigns that our team and clients love.


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