by Frank Wainwright, Editorial Director, FMBE
The appointment of Russ Lidstone to lead the emergence of the Creative Engagement Group was delivered fairly quietly in FMBE circles though it is hard to think of a more significant one for our industry in 2016.
The Creative Engagement Group, incorporating agencies WRG Worldwide, The Moment and Just Communicate transcends traditional agency and services supplier expectations and for Russ the next stage in a stellar career that has seen advertising jobs in planning and strategy lead to over 6 years as CEO at Havas Worldwide.
Brand engagement projects often benefit when a strategy expert takes up the reins at an agency with the relevant expertise as like Russ, they are often media neutral in their outlook and seek out ways for a brand to tell its story.
Only for Russ, story telling isn’t quite the right term: “It’s story doing, not story telling”, he says. For story doing excellence, Russ gives the example of Felix Baumgartner’s leap from the stratosphere as a Red Bull hero back in 2012.
Russ is excited by marketing events, and the intensity they offer to brands and he identified the live experience as the point where it all has to be orchestrated together. “What excites me is the reality of what we do,” he comments, “There is a moment in time where it all has to work.”
In practical terms the three agencies in the Creative Engagement Group that Russ is guiding have established strong credentials in FMBE related disciplines.
WRG describes itself a multinational content and experience creator. It employs 150 staff with multiple office locations around the world. Clients include HP, EE, Ricoh and Shell and it also has a strong portfolio in healthcare.
The Moment is a branded content creator with a focus in areas such as filming, VR, online and social media. The Moment joined the Group in September. Of WRG and The Moment’s synergy Russ says: “The DNA of the business makes us unbelievably good partners.
Since Russ got started at the Group he has become impressed with the logistical capacity of events and exhibitions build team, Just Communicate. “I have a strong passion and interest in the way events are organised”, he comments, “Just Communicate are excellent at building the environment. Part of my job is simply to remind everyone of how good they are.”
Russ is certain that the agencies that he oversees are in the right place at the right time to benefit from the event marketing sector growth and he points to the IPA’s Bellwether report that reported a steeply growing marketing budget share in as an indicator of a bright future. It is a report he has reason to be interested in having spent 2 months consulting to the IPA this year.
So, is Russ Lidstone someone that the industry as well at the Creative Engagement Group should be calling on to flourish his expertise? Well, that depends on the type of expert that you want. One Lidstone hero is Guggenheim architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose famous idiom is “an expert is a man who has stopped thinking because ‘he knows’” It is evident then that Russ Lidstone’s story is still one of doing, not telling and expertise status is happily on hold.