Adam and I knew each other in London back in the 80s. He interviewed me several times for jobs, but for whatever reason, the right job never quite appeared at the right time. When I decided (inexplicably from Adam’s perspective at the time) to move to NZ rather than out to LA to replace him as Planning Director at Chiat Day, I thought that perhaps we were meant to never work together.
But, 10 years later, after I had left Saatchi, I had lunch with Adam in London and he spoke to me about the consultancy he had recently launched, eatbigfish, and his ideas about what it takes to be a successful Challenger.
I loved the idea that Challengers have ambitions bigger than resources, and what this means in terms of stepping outside normal category conventions. Especially exciting was the fit between Challenger thinking and NZ culture and identity – thinking differently, punching above our weight is meat and drink for kiwis.
I was part of several big eatbigfish projects – Kodak, Del Monte and Pepsico in North America, Unilever in India and Skins in Australia as well as eatbigfish projects that I ran here in NZ for the likes of Anchor, Tip Top and Frucor.
Our most memorable project (for everyone involved) was for Tourism New Zealand when I was able to see up close, Adam’s almost alchemical ability to bring people together and draw ideas out of them that they didn’t know they had.
I continue to use Challenger frameworks and thinking in my work when relevant (which is often) and, in working with clients, to try to reflect Adam’s mix of intellectual rigour, enquiry, creativity and humanity.