Coming to College Hill

Multi-award winning creative Matt Swinburne on Colenso, creativity, and cause-related advertising.

Matt Swinburne has created award-winning work for the likes of Diageo, NZ Coastguard, NY Lotto, Toyota, Snickers and Barcardi. His most recent standout campaigns Snickers’ Superbowl ‘Fix The World’, and Bombay Sapphire’s ‘Design Museum Supermarket’, picked up multiple awards at D&AD, Cannes, Clio and three Gold pencils at One Show.

The Group Creative Director at Colenso BBDO previously graced top global agencies including Droga & McCann
New York, Mother and AMV BBDO where he was Creative Director.

What brought you to Colenso BBDO?

I’ve always been a fan of the work that comes out of College Hill. They’re the masters of smart, insightful work that surprises and entertains.

Colenso have been consistently awesome for a long time, and with Si, Ange and Rob at the helm, and a raft of new talent, it feels like there’s plenty more awesome just around the corner. I’m incredibly excited to be part of this new era. 

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Ideas. Hearing a great idea, or occasionally having one, still gets me going. When an idea brings a room to life and everyone can’t help but jump in and build on it, that’s the magic. The ideas that get me most excited are the ones where people say, “Can we even do that?”. 

Describe your approach to creative work

Restless and a little relentless. I’m not the best at switching off. I’m always hunting for that next idea or opportunity. And when I find it, I keep pushing to try and make it happen and make it great. 

I think the best creatives think like producers and find ways to do things that haven’t been done before. It’s that entrepreneurial spirit that I love about Kiwi creatives, and is part of the culture at Colenso.

Who’s doing great work presently?

Liquid Death is a marketing lecture waiting to happen, if it isn’t already. The judo move they’ve done on an established category to make water cool is amazing. Kids are going to grow up drinking water instead of cans of liquid sugar.

On the production side, Megaforce are doing awesome things. From Nike to Burberry, they know how to bring magic to the mundane, and make cultural hits. 

Your favourite campaign of 2022?

The gun violence awareness stunt, ‘The Lost Class’. Can you imagine how stressful that would have been keeping that ruse under wraps? High stakes stuff. An incredibly powerful, and PR-able visual too. Let’s hope it has a real impact. 

Challenges facing creatives in 2023?

Doing cause-related advertising right. More consumers are looking for brands that are doing good in the world, but more and more they’re also sniffing out brands that either don’t walk the talk or don’t have a real connection to the cause. 

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but I think staying on top of emerging platforms and technologies is very important. Especially with purse strings getting tighter, we need to be open to trying new things to connect with our audiences. It’s going to make for exciting new opportunities. 

Quick-fire 5

1. Who is your favourite Disney character? Gaston

2. Which celebrity has the best hair? Bruce Willis 

3. What’s your favourite quote? Edison sums up the creative process; “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

4. Which dessert do you most relate to? Dessert wine.

5. If you were a wine, how would you be described? Easy drinking. 

This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

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