Upheaval in Telstra marketing sees advertising heavy hitter Mark Collis as director of creativity

Telstra has dramatically hired the experienced advertising creative Mark Collis – former national creative director of Leo Burnett and more recently ECD of Ogilvy Japan – into the new role of director of creativity and innovation, Mumbrella can reveal.  

kate mckenzie telstra mumbrella

Kate McKenzie

The move is the biggest since Kate McKenzie stepped up to the new role of chief marketing officer in March.

Mumbrella understands that Collis will report in directly to McKenzie, rather than to executive director of brand & marketing communications Amanda Johnston-Pell.

The appointment is a significant one in that it signals another shift in marketing influence within Telstra following the departure of BigPond boss Justin Milne just over a month ago. It will also make Collis the most senior creative in Australia in a clientside job.

Collis quietly started in the role  late last month, Mumbrella understands.

Collis’s agency career in Australia included national creative director at D’Arcy, where he created the celebrated “Swimming Pool” ad for Mars, which was named by Campaign Brief as one of the top 30 ads of the decade.

He has won awards at D&AD, Cannes and AWARD.

Although he went to school and university in Perth, Collis spent much of his early career in the UK, including creative director at Grey. During a stint at George Patterson he worked on Telstra as a client.

And Collis’s time as national creative director at Leo Burnett included the launch of the Earth Hour campaign for WWF and the McDonald’s “Inner Child” ad.

He left in 2008 to become ECD of Ogilvy Japan and stayed until last October.

His appointment will inevitably lead to speculation about what it means for Telstra’s roster of agencies.

BWM is particularly close to Johnston-Pell thanks to its celebrated “rabbits” ad, which helped boost her reputation. And BWM continues to hold a significant amount of Telstra work including Big Pond (Patrick and Daniel), NextG (Brad and Emma) and Telstra small business (ErnCorp).

In an interview on her appointment two years ago, Johnston-Pell (Johnston, as she was known then) cited the rabbits ad as her favourite:

Three Drunk Monkeys is also on the roster, having recently launched Telstra’s T-Hub home device. And DDB is currently involved in Telstra youth marketing projects.

A Telstra spokesman confirmed Collis’ appointment to Mumbrella but said there had not yet been a formal announcement.


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