Q&A: Authentic Entertainment’s New Creative Director Jamie McTavish

Staff Writer

by Poppy Reid from The MusicNetwork 

Since MCM Media merged with digital agency Igloo and rebranded as Authentic Entertainment in June, it’s been making big moves to position itself as a global player in the marketing service sector. It hired award-winning PR company Red Agency in September to generate buzz around its brand partnerships, and among its new appointments, hired creative veteran Jamie McTavish to broaden its perspective and boost its focus on music.

Over his 25-year career, McTavish has worked in Australia, London, Malaysia, Africa and Korea, at agencies including Nestle, PepsiCo Foods, Singapore Airlines, Mercedes-Benz and Disney. He chats with TMN about his move back to Australia, what his experience in entertainment means for the future of Authentic and where music currently sits on the company’s priority list.

Over your 25-year career you’ve worked in five countries, picked up a slew of major creativity awards and helmed some of the most inventive advertising campaigns of the last decade, how much of your move back to Australia was because of the opportunity with Authentic Entertainment?

Prior to catching up with John Wardley (CEO, Authentic Entertainment) I was actually entertaining a couple of offers in New York and London, so Australia wasn’t even on my radar at the time. Not because I didn’t want to move back to Australia, but because no one else was doing anything fresh, exciting and different, or had someone at the helm whom had the global experience and shared the same international values. So it was pretty much 100% because of the opportunity of working at Authentic Entertainment – the company and the direction they are taking it really appealed to me. That and the fact that there is a very talented and driven team with a great attitude and plenty of infectious enthusiasm that creates a fantastic atmosphere about the place that is pretty hard to beat and hard to find –  not just in Australia but anywhere in the world.

You’ve put Disney on your resume, what was that like?
Disney was a wonderful opportunity. The scale with which everything is done is monumental and no more so than in the Middle East where slightly over-the-top is part of the course. It was also where I encountered one of the most bizarre meetings in my life – strange as it may seem at first to be greeted in an enormous office, festooned wall to wall in anything and everything Disney, while senior staff dressed in traditional Arabic dress scoot past on electric Mickey and Mini Mouse scooters. Nothing can prepare you for the Boardroom Arabic to English translations that come through your Mickey Mouse headphones voiced in the style of different Disney Characters, especially when you are trying to have a serious conversation with people sat opposite you.

Which of your campaigns do you deem your biggest successes?
Out of the campaigns I have done over the years I would have to say the one I am probably most known for around the world is the Castlemaine XXXX campaign that ran in London simply because of the cheeky, dry Australian humour it contained that touched people in all sorts of far-flung places the world over, places where the ads never even ran but people still talked about them and the campaign is still running to this day.

Others would have to be the global campaigns for Mercedes Benz, British Airways and Heineken, the last one developing the creative execution to support Heinekens international investment in the James Bond Film, Skyfall, for the global launch of the new bottle design, and working with Daniel Craig and on the actual 007 Bond sets at Pine Wood Studios was pretty special.


But I am just as proud, if not more, of the small budget ideas like getting people to conserve water by having water wise plants appear out of nowhere on a blank newspaper page using a damp cloth, or getting people to become organ donors by simply buying a half dozen small column press ads for two bob nothing in the obituary section of the paper and then in spot colour red having the word CANCELLED written across what looked like obituary notices with a simple phone number on the bottom right column space to become a donor.

Whilst Authentic has repositioned itself as an overarching creative agency, its roots lay in music. What do you bring to the table from your experience in the entertainment sector?
I think, or at least hope I bring a much broader perspective and greater lateral thinking into incorporating music into ideas in very different ways that explore, excite and engage people in ways relevant to today’s  lifestyles and how we live, whether you are 110 or just turned 10. I also think I bring a fresh balance between all things digital without forgetting there is a whole world and life beyond dot com and the screen of a mobile phone. The one simple fact that people forget the world over, especially advertising agencies, is that people don’t like being talked at or told what to do. If you want to change a person’s mood or attitude, nothing is more effective than music – it’s a fact.

How will you boost Authentic’s creativity credentials and where does music sit on its priority list now?
Music will always sit as a priority within the company. However, how we creatively incorporate it into communications and integrate it through various technologies – current and yet to be developed  – will be how we boost the creative credentials of the company both locally and internationally. As such, I have not only brought in a lot of fresh new talent from Australia and overseas, but also a constantly evolving body of international specialists, inventors, innovators, dreamers, designers and people that simply inspire others.

In your experience, how has the advertising industry changed in terms of the way in which it utilises the music industry?
I think the biggest change in the way advertising agencies utilise the music industry is that they finally see that it is a property that they can no longer ignore or ride rough shot over because of its global reach and influence with what globally, is their biggest consumer base.

The only problem is that too many agencies don’t know how to change, and or embrace change, because they are so set in their ways. I don’t think it is just in the music sector that this occurs but all the arts, and has been an issue for many years in part because agencies traditionally have always been trying to sell to a consumer as apposed to build a relationship with them. And with the consumer having a far greater say in what they want and how they want it ,agencies are now on the back foot in trying to find how best to build a relationship with that consumer and as such, are now looking at every tool at their disposal to make those bridges – music obviously being one.

Tell us about the projects you’re currently working on?
Projects I am currently working on range from developing completely new bespoke media platforms for children, to developing new products that use existing technology but applying it to completely different products that people wouldn’t normally have considered, but marry perfectly , I know I am scooting around this question like a politician at a baby kissing convention but suffice to say plenty of exciting things that haven’t been done before in Australia or the world for that matter and as such I am keeping close to my chest!


Read more in The Music Network here.


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