Amplify was established in Sydney in 2018, a decade after the creative agency first began in London.
During the early days, Gareth Davies was its head of production under the agency’s founder, Jonathan Emmins.
Sydney was Amplify’s first international office outside the UK and set the blueprint. The agency has grown with hubs in London, LA, New York, Barcelona, and Paris.
Davies spoke to Mediaweek about the agency’s growth and evolution, what he has learned as a leader, challenges, highlights and celebrating its fifth year in business Down Under.
The Amplify evolution
Amplify’s journey has seen the creative agency grow and scale in people, clients, and offerings.
“We were lucky and grateful that Google, a long-standing client, put their faith and trust in us – as they continue to do to this day on both sides of the world. Things escalated quickly for us, delivering flagship campaigns, including Spotify’s ‘Front Left’ Live, YouTube’s ‘Unboxed’ and Google’s Pixel 3 phone launch,” he said.
“As a home for creative people and clients, we’ve broadened our offering. We are constantly innovating and evolving our capabilities, always with the ability to lean into the passions and expertise of our other global offices around the world.”
As managing director, Davies noted that the agency had had nearly as much time in pandemic conditions as out, resulting in long-overdue changes in the world of brand experience and marketing, which has allowed the agency to create, showcase and deliver work a genuine vision of a ‘global creative agency specialising in experience and culture’.
“With IRL projects off the table for much of that period, it allowed us to take clients on more innovative and integrated journeys,” he shared.
Davies highlighted that the agency has delivered experiences such as YouTube Music Sessions and Afterpay’s Digi_Couture at Australian Fashion Week and received open-ended cultural briefs such as we had from PlayStation that culminated in PlayStation to Plate in partnership with Deliveroo.
Davies on leading Amplify Australia as MD and his key learnings
Davies has been at the helm of Amplify Australia’s five years in business as managing partner and executive producer. For him, the ever-changing and fluctuating world – for consumers and marketers alike – has been a factor that has shaped his key learnings, which he described as “challenging and exciting” and something he encouraged both agencies and brands to lean into.
“Change is an accelerator for innovation. Embrace change and ride the wave. As both a creative agency and a specialist in brand experience, we know the marketing world is constantly evolving as consumers’ appetite evolves with societal influences. Our success lies in our ability to evolve and adapt as fluidly as our audiences do,” he said.
Davies explained that the agency’s philosophy behind creating campaigns is: “Joining the dots between people, brands, and culture.”
“We always look for a triple win, uniting all three. Put simply, we believe we have two clients, the brands that give us the killer briefs but, arguably more importantly, the audiences they’re trying to engage. Get it right, and the legacy should uplift the pockets of culture we’re playing in.”
Amplify Australia was founded as a home for creative people and clients, Davies said, highlighting that their team is carefully curated, optimised, adapted, nurtured and supported.
“We are only as good as those talented individuals who choose to call Amplify home. We don’t take our clients or our team for granted. That requires consistent review, attention, and energy and should be prioritised and remain a key focus – after all, our culture is the reason people want to work with us.
“Get the culture right, and you’ll develop a well-optimised team that works together cohesively and stays for longer. The longer, the stronger,” he said.
Managing work and projects during the pandemic and the impact in the years since
Like most businesses, the pandemic set boundaries that made day-to-day work challenging. But for Amplify – an agency specialising in experiences – creativity was a key factor in managing projects.
Davies shared: “In a nutshell, we got tight, then we got mighty. We got creative and then created work for ourselves. We created work based on what we knew audiences wanted and desperately needed, and that equally solved a set of unprecedented brand and business challenges – whether B2C or B2B.”
Going into lockdown, he and his leadership team assured job safety for their team, focussing on helping reassure, support, and build relationships with clients, existing and new.
Davies applauded executive chief director Baggott, who crafted pandemic-friendly proactive ideas from supporting emerging musicians with exposure to YouTube Music Sessions to creating buzz ahead of the launch of Google Nest Cam for pets.
But when it comes to approaching work, Davies noted that the years since the pandemic have permanently changed how it operates.
“It has opened up how we consider an approach to a business problem – expanding the available channels to deliver brand experiences and re-evaluating how our audiences want to be reached.”
Davies on turning challenges into opportunities
Davies noted that Amplify’s performance and growth, both in Australia and globally, post-pandemic and through some challenging trading years has been a testament to the attitude of turning challenges into opportunities.
“We still have to pinch ourselves about the brands and clients we get to work with and are always grateful for their belief and trust,” he said.
“Whether local campaigns for Google’s Pixel phone launch, Levi’s celebration of 150 years of the 501 jeans, Afterpay’s sponsorship of Australian Fashion Week, Canva’s presence at WorldPride, Nike’s 1000 Victories rallying cry celebrating the female football community or global and multi-territory campaigns such as Airbnb’s ‘Night at the Louvre’ that reached 90 countries.
“All are united by Amplify’s passion, fuelled by curiosity, to push boundaries and with a focus on seeing what’s next,” he added.
Davies said Amplify aims to be a progressive voice and industry leader, helping and guiding clients through tricky business and brand challenges.
The agency has dedicated time and energy to developing thought leadership platforms to help and add value to its client work.
“For example, ‘Young Blood’ is our ongoing research and film series, exploring the hopes, fears and realities growing up in the world today,” he said.
“This year, at SXSW in Austin, we also launched our ‘worldbuilding – the evolution of brand building’ platform. Through that, we’re helping many of our clients co-author briefs to tackle many challenges modern-day brands face.
Through initiatives such as these, we’ve defined and maintained our cultural roots, identity, and reputation within the industry, locally and globally,” he added.
Davies also highlighted the agency’s industry awards of the last two years, from Campaign’s Brand Experience Agency of the Year AUNZ in 2021 and 2022. This year, Amplify won Campaign’s Global Brand Experience Agency of the Year (gold), Independent Brand Experience Agency of the Year (gold) and bronze for Independent Creative Agency of the Year.
“Much of the work featured was conceived and delivered from our Sydney office. We do like to remind our London office it took them six years to do what we managed to do in three,” he quipped.
Celebrating five successful years and Amplify at SXSW
Davies shared that the team celebrated the milestone a little ahead of the actual date this month.
“We celebrated as a team a little early by spending our annual weekend in Hobart at Dark Mofo in June,” he said.
Davies noted that Amplify will also be at SXSW before celebrating the fifth anniversary.
The agency will co-host a session with their client, Sonos, as part of the Music conference track.
“In the session, you’ll hear from the team behind the making of Frisson Trigger, a ground-breaking track engineered to give listeners chills,” Davies shared.
Also, part of the session is a panel featuring GRAMMY-winning producer Eric J Dubowsky, music psychologist Dr Solange Glasser, director of marketing for growth markets at Sonos, Emma Levy and Amplify’s executive creative director, Tim Baggott.
The panel’s discussion will explore the factors that cause physical sensations in the listener and how Sonos brought art and science together to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
Davies added that he hopes that Amplify’s presence at SXSW Sydney will achieve several outcomes for the agency.
“We’re aiming to showcase our unique approach to our work and connect with more like-minded clients and partners along the way at SXSW,” Davies added.
Davies’ outlook for 2024 and beyond
Davies shared that he and the team have an optimistic outlook for the future of Amplify, from growing their reputation and client base locally and globally.
“Locally, that focus will be to broaden our offering into APAC, continue to expand our capabilities and further strengthen our global network,” he said.
Davies noted that as Amplify continues to innovate and grow its reputation campaign work and thought leadership, it will challenge and push boundaries of what is expected from brand experience and creative campaigns.
“At Amplify, we discuss creating ideas, experiences, campaigns and platforms that can be amplified at every touchpoint and across the entire marketing mix. For me, some of the best brand experience-led campaigns are truly innovative – and you’re often scratching your head,” he said.
“Is it an event? Is it content or a broadcast? Is it OOH? Is it a PR driver? Is it creative tech-based or mixed realities? For me, these are often the best campaigns – the ones that are truly pushing the boundaries,” Davies concluded.
Top image: Gareth Davies