Experiential change: How Glen Condie is perfecting the art of content marketing

Glen Condie is somewhat of a veteran in the experiential marketing scene. After a successful nine-year run with his business Maverick, he founded Wonder, which has created hugely successful campaigns for Qantas, Cadbury and Westpac.

The business was even nominated for an Emmy Award, for its series The Great Crusade, a comedy series about Australia’s bid to win the Rugby World Cup.

Condie spoke to SmartCompany about his history in experiential marketing, and his thoughts on why the industry is changing – and why Australia may be a little behind the rest of the world.

Maverick was a bit more on the experiential marketing side. We had a good couple of years, and we did very well, but we just chose to do things a little differently.

I think most entrepreneurs have a limited attention span. Definitely myself, included. I was at Maverick from 1999 to 2008 – that was nine years. It’s no secret creators are not necessarily always the best people to run a company as it grows.

That’s an inevitable progression for any company that is successful. The natural skills of an entrepreneur are not necessarily as important as the company settles down.

A new segment of marketing has emerged. With the internet growing so much, the ability is growing for marketers to create their own content and distribute it really cheaply.

Just look at Netflix. Netflix creates a television series House of Cards and sticks it online all at once. The cost of product is smaller and they’re able to do that easily.

My frustration is that everybody watches who goes first. They don’t take the chance to do it, a lot of marketers don’t want to take many risks, and even when they produce branded content, they stay within some risk-free, safe territory.

Take Red Bull, for instance. This crazy idea to jump from space – Red Bull can get away with it because it makes compelling content. But when brand ‘X’ does something like that, it just feels like ‘oh look at me, look at what I can do’.

In Australia we’re dragging a bit behind in branded content. When we think about branded content, they tend to be pretty long ads.

Look at something like Dumb Ways to Die. It’s pretty much a long ad, right? If you look around the rest of the world, they’re making a whole TV series with story arcs and plots. We haven’t quite cracked that yet.

From the day I start a company, I start working on making myself redundant. A good company needs to be about more than a person, or a group of people.

If you look at my industry, all the firms are named after the people who founded them. I think those people are nuts, because what do you do when they leave, and those people aren’t there anymore?

It’s important for me to say my company isn’t just about one person. If you have these great skills which you can use to set up companies and have them run well, you need to identify the possibility it will be around in five years, or fifty years, and still needs to run well.

I’m still useful as long as I’m enthusiastic.

The challenge is that barriers to entry in this industry are low. The most fundamental risk is not being able to attract good people. Our business is simply a talent business – if you look at our costs, 70% of them are staff based. That shows you how valuable they are to the business.

One of the greatest ways to attract good people is just to do great, exciting work. How else do you attract them if you’re not a large multinational? You don’t have the ability to match offers – you just simply need to do great work.


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