Creative Talk with Jeff Harris, Creative Director at TRACK NZ
This month’s Creative Talk is with Jeff Harris, Creative Director of TRACK NZ, a Full-Service Marketing, Digital, CRM Agency. We ask Jeff about his journey to Creative Director and what life is like working in a Customer Experience agency.
Jeff, tell us a bit about yourself.
I started out in brand a very long time ago in London and then moved into DM in the eighties at the newly formed WWAV (now Rapp). I then launched one of the UK’s first digital agencies in 1995 and haven’t had time to look back since. Outside of work and family, my main passion is photography and travel. Ideally together.
How did you make the journey to working at TRACK?
I moved to NZ in 2005, joining FCB and then had stints at Saatchis, Y&R and AffinityID before joining Rapp (now TRACK) in 2015.
Being CD level – are you still a hands-on creative day to day?
Less as we get bigger – instead I work closely with the creative teams to help guide and direct them and their work. A bigger part of my role now is the ‘care and watering’ along with working with the leadership team on the overall growth and direction of the agency.
At TRACK you put human behaviour first – data and tech second. Can you talk us through this?
We’re always putting human needs and behaviours at the core of all our work. This requires curiosity and empathy to understand the problems and realities our customers face. Data shouldn’t be the enemy of creative and nor should creative be a slave to data. There also needs to be room left for intuition and good old fashioned gut instinct.
Advertising has changed quite dramatically over the past 10 years, what excites you about advertising today?
We still have problems that need solving – and that’s always been the best bit of my job. So, lots of change, but no change really.
And what about the future – where do you see technology and digital heading?
More channels, more fragmentation, more data and more need than ever for compelling ideas to bind it all together - using emotion, empathy and humour.
Does winning awards matter?
Yes. We all like to think they don’t matter until you’re up for one. I think to be recognised by your peers for doing great work is important. It’s also great for morale and it never hurts when you’re hiring or looking for a new job either.
Do you have a favourite piece of creative work?
I would say the ‘Harsh Reality’ work we did for Auckland City Mission was very rewarding – not just for the D&AD Pencil and Webby we won but for being able to support the Mission in the amazing work they do for the homeless.
Hiring creatives – do you find creatives come with the skills and experience required for the type of work you do at TRACK?
This is probably the most challenging part of hiring in our space right now. We need more creatives that really understand what customers need in the moment and how to communicate with them. It’s especially important for copywriters who need to be able to get into the shoes of our customers. And CX for creatives isn’t really been taught right now, so that’s something we’re looking at helping with.
Do you first and foremost look at their work – or where they have worked?
I look at the work first. Where they have come from can be useful, but I’m more interested in where they are going and what they want to achieve in the future.
Thoughts on hybrid creatives – who can cover both art direction and copywriting?
I’m fully old school and like to see writers and art directors practicing and improving their craft. We have a fairly traditional team structure here and I love the potential you get from two people kicking ideas around to create one outcome.
What's your top tip to creative school students looking to become agency creatives?
Assume you know nothing, and you will learn a lot.
To quote Einstein: ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”