IAG’s CMO Brent Smart: ‘Nothing Kills an Idea Faster than a Corporation’

May 27, 2022
IAG’s CMO Brent Smart: ‘Nothing Kills an Idea Faster than a Corporation’
Ferrier explained he’d like to see the industry stop celebrating mediocrity so much, and start thinking outside of the box and be “fearless”.

During Southern Cross Austereo’s LiSTNR media event in Sydney on Thursday, Thinkerbell’s founder Adam Ferrier, and IAG’s CMO, Brent Smart, who launched a LiSTNR podcast, Black T-Shirts, joined SCA’s CMO, Nikki Clarkson in a panel discussion communicating the importance of being fearless in order to produce engaging industry creative.

“I’m so passionate about the power of creativity,” said Smart. “There is nothing being built that is as good at killing an idea, as a corporation.”

Smart reiterated: “They are built to kill ideas. It really takes a marketer, who’s willing to fight that system, to get a good idea through. If our podcast and conversations can help inspire one marketer to go on that journey and fight for their idea and make their work better, then Adam and I would be happy and proud. It’s hard. If it was easy, all the work would be great. Most of its shit, most of it is pollution. I think it’s so important to help creativity not just thrive but survive.”

Moreover, Ferrier noted in his career he’s felt slightly “less exposed” as he works on behalf of a client with the brand, rather than the client of a brand.

“Being on the agency side, your reputation is built by cumulative pieces of work, but you’re doing work on behalf of other people’s clients, brands, and businesses,” he said. “So, they’re the ones who are taking the real risk. And with that, the agency takes a lot of responsibility in making sure we’re not just doing work for their own benefit. 

“I feel slightly less exposed, because I’m working with other people’s brands, and other people’s money, in that regard. I find pressure to constantly live up to the expectations and make sure that we’re delivering.”

Clarkson shared that leaving agency-land to work for a brand came with a lot more responsibilities. “It was very obvious when I came from creative agencies, as well, into a marketing position for a brand, that it’s not all care and no responsibility, but having worked in agencies for ten years, to then be in the seat, it is your reputation, it is your name that is going to be associated with the work,” she said.

“I think what’s interesting about the creative process is that you put yourself out there,” Smart explained. “It’s not just putting a piece of work out there, there is so much of you tied to that work that you do. If you have as much as Adam and I care, then you’re going to put a lot of you in the work that you create.”

Meanwhile, Ferrier explained he’d like to see the industry stop celebrating mediocrity so much, and start thinking outside of the box and be “fearless”.

“The more we celebrate mediocrity, then the more we’re kidding ourselves that what we’re doing is interesting or engaging so I find that a real handbrake to doing really interesting and great quality work,” he said. 

As for keeping that creative spark alive, Smart admitted: “One thing I say to my team is that behind the desk is a really dangerous place to do marketing. It’s really important to be out in the world.

“The thing that used to drive me crazy in agencies, is that these creative teams have never stepped out into a Walmart in America, or outside of their Surry Hills bubble and have never been west of Annandale. Staying in touch is so important, whether it is catching the train to work, or going outside for a walk during lunch, meeting someone new.”

“I thrive on chaos and loads of emails, being really busy and living a chaotic lifestyle, that’s where I get my energy from,” said Ferrier. “You need to know where to get your energy from, pay attention to that, and create it.”

“You don’t need to come up with the ideas, you just have to be really good at spotting them and really good at protecting them. I think you can be a sponsor of creativity, and finding the part of creativity that you can contribute to is also important,” said Smart.