Creative boutique The Monkeys arrived in Australia's advertising industry with a bang but has kept a slightly lower profile over the past couple of years. It launched in Sydney in 2006 as a breakaway from Saatchi & Saatchi with the aim of being the country's most provocative creative shop, grabbing attention with edgy and offbeat work, including a TV sitcom about the industry and a collection of spoof ads on Australia's ad-free ABC network to promote marketing talk show The Gruen Transfer. The agency settled down a little at the turn of the decade, at around the same time that it dropped its original name of Three Drunk Monkeys in response to pressure from a new client, drinks giant Diageo. The Monkeys' work has matured since then but it continues to scoop accolades. It has been named Advertising Agency of the Year for seven out of eight years since 2010 by local trade magazine B&T, and as Australian Agency of the Year for two of the past three years by Campaign Asia. Rarely (if ever) has a year passed without one or other trade organisation handing that award to the agency. In 2019, The Monkeys was named as Agency of the Decade by B&T. In 2020 it was named as Australia's most effective agency in the Global Effie Index. Founders Scott Nowell, Justin Drape and Mark Green continued to own and run the business with a team of partners, before finally being acquired in 2017. In a startling escalation of the encroachment of management consultancies into traditional marketing, the buyer was Accenture, who paid a handsome A$63m for the business. The Monkeys joined that group's Accenture Interactive division. The founders remain at the helm for the time being, and have successfully attracted other local stars to the agency, not least renowned creative director Ant Keogh who joined in 2017 to head up a new outpost in Melbourne. Mark Green is now CEO of both The Monkeys and of Accenture Interactive in Australia & New Zealand. A dedicated New Zealand office of The Monkeys opened in 2021. Justin Drape announced his departure at the beginning of 2021. Scott Nowell remains group chief creative officer. Ant Keogh is chief creative officer of the Melbourne office. Tara Ford joined in 2021 as chief creative officer for Sydney.
Capsule checked 16th June 2020
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Marketer Moves 24th May 2021: CEO and CCO named for The Monkeys New Zealand. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jan 2021: "Make Lamb, Not Walls". The Australia Day national holiday - in two weeks' time - has gradually been co-opted by that country's Meat & Livestock Australia trade body as an opportunity to celebrate one of its most important products: lamb. That's usually a great excuse for a lavish ad campaign, and this year's spot from The Monkeys is one of the most extravagant to-date. There are plenty of in-jokes which only Australians are likely to spot, for example, targeting the popular local stereotypes of Queenslanders, Tasmanians and "Sydneysider" hipsters. Long-time Australian Lamb brand spokesman Sam Kekovich makes an appearance too, misquoting Robert Duvall's 'Apocalypse Now' line. And there's no mistaking the central concept, which refers to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to close state borders to combat the Covid pandemic. That's meant to be Morrison himself at the end, arriving back in Australia from Hawaii, where, controversially, he was to be found enjoying a holiday during 2019's catastrophic bushfires. Ouch!
Adbrands Daily Update 30th Sep 2019: "Domuts: Donuts for Dogs". Australian creative powerhouse The Monkeys created this fabulously surreal spot for Domuts, a real company that makes donuts specially formulated for dogs. (Warning: dogs can't eat human donuts, like they can't eat chocolate, so don't try this at home!) There's an interesting story here: Australian insurer CGU launched a bold campaign earlier this year - ABN Rescue - to help struggling local businesses with advice and funding. Domuts was one such project, a mother and son business which had failed for lack of experience, but was relaunched with CGU's help. Benefits included an ad by CGU's own agency The Monkeys as well as free airtime during the AFL Grand Final, Australia's equivalent to Super Bowl. (Click through from the ad for more films about CGU's ABN Rescue campaign). Best of luck to Domuts, and to all CGU's other small business projects.
Adbrands Social Media 12th Aug 2019: "Every Home is Worth Protecting". This lovely little film from The Monkeys for Australian insurer NRMA is shamelessly sentimental... but also entirely adorable in every way. I suspect that the novelty of koala bears will never tire for anyone who isn't an Australian resident, but there is certainly also an important environmental point being made here. A total charmer.
Adbrands Social Media 21st Jan 2019: "New Australialand". With a blistering summer already underway in Australia, The Monkeys unveils its latest campaign for Australian Lamb, in which the country's government attempts to co-opt their Antipodean neighbours in New Zealand to help boost their profile. Many of these jokes are, inevitably, aimed squarely at the local audience and go flying over our Northern Hemisphere heads. Like the rapid turnover of local political leaders or the underarm cricket scandal (which unbelievably has been festering between Aussies and Kiwis for almost 40 years!). All you really need to know is that the same semi-amicable rivalry exists between those two countries as between, say, the US and Canada; or France and Belgium; or the United Kingdom and um... Europe. Ah, did I say *semi*-amicable?
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: Ads Of The Week: "Enter Asahi". Trust Australia's finest, The Monkeys, to shake up the beer market. For Asahi Super Dry, that Accenture-owned creative hothouse has concocted a spellbinding mash-up of cool Japanese cultural references - cool being the operative word; nothing kawaii here - to remind us of the splendours of that country's top-selling brew. Australia once produced some of the world's finest beer advertising before running foul of regulatory concerns about condoning alcohol. Could this be the beginning of a re-birth? As they say at the end of every Japanese beer ad following a great big gulp: "Kkkaaahhhhhh!"
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