Jon Austin to take sole creative leadership of Host/Havas as co-executive creative directors Seamus Higgins + Ant Melder depart the agency

Jon Austin.jpgFollowing a creative restructure, Host/Havas has today announced that its executive creative director, Jon Austin, will take the sole reins of the agency's creative leadership. Austin will take on his new responsibility following the departures of co-executive creative directors, Seamus Higgins and Ant Melder.
 
Austin will oversee the creative output across the agency, with a growing focus on the intersection of entertainment, innovation and advertising. Over the past six years with the agency, Austin has led a series of major campaigns, including the development of Air New Zealand's critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning brand campaigns such as the chart-topping 'Summer Wonderland' and 'A Very Merry Mistake' as well as the Super Bowl's 'Losers' Paradise'.
Says Austin: "I couldn't be more excited about what lies ahead. Not just because we have an incredible stable of collaborative and adventurous clients, but because I find myself surrounded by some of Australia's most formidable creative talent, sharpest strategic minds and most inspiring leadership. Host/Havas is one hell of a family, with one hell of a future. I'm grateful for the continued opportunity to help chart its course."
 
Says Laura Aldington, CEO, Host/Havas: "Jon has proven himself to be an exceptional creative leader and is responsible for some of our most popular work over the last six years, as well as the vast majority of our new business success. We are incredibly excited to be opening the next creative chapter for the agency under his watchful and very talented eye."
 
Seamus.jpgAnt.jpgHiggins (far left) leaves the agency after more than five and a half years to pursue an exciting new opportunity following a successful tenure, which has seen him lead a number of successful, multi-award-winning campaigns. Melder (left) also departs the agency for pastures new, following a successful two year focus on Defence Force Recruiting (DFR), which helped result in the 2018 Grand Effie for Long-Term Effectiveness.
 
Says Aldington: "Seamus has made an indelible mark on Host/Havas, playing a central role on both DFR and, of course, the career-defining Palau Pledge. I'm extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to partner with him and wish him the very best for his next adventure.
 
"And, whilst Ant has been with us for less time, he has had no less of an impact. As well as being very talented and totally committed to his craft, he is also one of the most liked and respected people in the business.
 
"They've both been brilliant and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for everything they've done for us."
 
Says Higgins: "Over the past five and a half years, I've been honoured to be involved in so many great campaigns and work with so many smart and imaginative people. I've certainly done my best work since I've been here and the team's collective passion and ambition to create great stories, push boundaries and embrace innovation, has made it a great place to work each day. I'll miss the team greatly but I know that they will continue to thrive in the very capable hands of Jon."
 
Higgins will leave the agency in March and the new creative structure will take effect immediately.

35 Comments

Anton said:

Congrats Jon. Stoked for you!

Legend said:

Great work Jonny Boy! That talent. That hair. Unstoppable.

@wow said:

It depends what you mean by stripes. A room full of Lions? No.

Jon has a decade or so of good solid work under his belt and a few awards in the mix.

To be honest I worked with him only briefly years back, but I remember him as being great with people, and generous and honest with younger creatives.

Some of the greatest ECDs did very little as creatives. While some of the best creatives have done very little as ECDs.

Managing people and cultures is skill in its own right. Far too often creatives are promoted beyond their capabilities due to the strength of their creative work.

Pundit said:

A great, talented, passionate guy. It’s a huge, hard earned opportunity, and he’ll smash it.

Good on him said:

This is a great appointment. Personally, I'm sick of the myopic merry-go-round that is Australian creative leadership. Time for a freshen up...

Matty G said:

Onya legend x

@Good on him said:

Good on you. Thoroughly agree

Not so new AD said:

Amazing talent and an amazing man. Congrats Jaustin, well deserved.

Robbie Brammall said:

Congrats Jon.
Great creative, great CD, great hair.

RS said:

One of the best people to work with in the business. A class act.

Joe Hawkins said:

Baby Jon Austin! Nice work, sir. Sending you interstate hugs.

Big Boss Man said:

You sir, are a true talent and a gent. Congratulations.

Camden said:

A creative leader, mentor and all-round good dood. Congrats m8.

Hmm said:

Mystery white shirt man strikes again.

Fellow bru said:

Awesome Jon what a legend !! Thought you were moving back to NZ though -?


Waheeeey Jonny! said:

A world class creative leader bar none. Despite being a filthy kiwi that is. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him twice now, and he’s something else altogether. The creative future of that place without doubt.

Tino Pai said:

Excellent news. A fiercesome creative talent and leader of people. Well done, my friend. Can’t wait to work alongside you again.

Howdy said:

He could Executively Creatively Direct me anytime.

Aaron G said:

Well done Mr Austin, smashing it...

Ummm said:

So everyone else left because of the culture or were made redundant because of business losses, but this was an appointment?

Curious

Toosoon said:

Not ready for this role unfortunately.

Going, going, said:

The incredible shrinking agency

Modern Times said:

I saw this and thought to myself good to see things are changing. Here's a little insight to those of you who are cynical or negative.

Over the past couple of decades the industry has been doing the same damn thing, hiring the same type of people, doing the same type of ideas. In the past CEOs would hire a "heavy hitter" that has "quite a few awards under his belt". They would worry about the PR of the hire than anything. Finally they've realised this is called "old school".

The hire here and at M&C Saatchi proves that these are modern and progressive hires and agencies are realising that there are creatives out there with leadership skills with much more business sensibility as well as creative goals. We are in modern times. I'm a creative hoping to lead in the future and I'm glad to see this.

Lee said:

Whoa, congrats Jon! That's quite the sprint since tutoring us. #awardschool2013

I don't know Jon said:

But I wish him and his agency all the best.

Why?

Because I'm not a miserable c-nt.

Have a good week all.

@Modern Times said:

And so years of experience of learning to lead, manage departments, run pitches, win awards, means nothing?

This my friend is what is wrong with our industry. There's no one left to look up to anymore. No one left to impart wisdom and be a mentor, because everyone is a ECD at 25.

I learned my craft and how to lead because I worked for the best of the best. Talented writers and art directors who had been in the game who showed me the ropes. I didn't learn from someone who was a 'nice progressive human' with a trendy instagram account.

If this is 'modern' advertising, frankly, it doesn't leave much to be desired.

Ageism strikes again said:

When is that going to adressed in our industry?

Stop the press said:

Guy gets a promotion at work

In a landmark case of employment in general, the creative industry was buzzing today as an advertising agency announced they were giving some guy a job with slightly more responsibility, after two more guys who had that job submitted their resignation. People are said to have stopped their cars in the middle of the street as the news was announced, as mounted police were called to control revellers. Says Constable Richard Glenn: "We don't know who this guy is."

Seen by most national commentators as a positive move, others expressed skepticism about the motivations behind this precedent-setting HR decision. People working closely with Jon seem, incredibly, to be taking the news in their stride.Says Host/Havas IT contractor: "We were advised that Jon Austin was changing desks, so we set to work rerouting his phone number to the new location." Cleaner Hee Chung was more circumspect: "Who's Jon?"

Many in the industry believe this is the first time a creative worker has ever received a promotion, while some insiders are rumoured to report it is possibly also the first time employees have ever quit their jobs. In recognition of this Australian first, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reportedly considering moving Australia Day to the date of the signing of the new employment contract, and a press scrum has formed outside Kirribilli as he deliberates with advisors.

Anxious to head off any client nervousness around the appointment of someone younger and slightly nicer-looking than his predecessors, Host/Havas has scheduled interviews with the BBC, New York Times and Oprah. Front pages globally were held as the agency scrambled to prepare its hastily written press release, which imaginatively extolled the virtues of their decision while wishing the departing colleagues all the best.

Jokes aside, all the best Jon. You'll kill it.

Whaaat? said:

@Modern Times - he's already an ECD who has already proven he can lead, manage departments, run pitches (and win them) and win awards. You don't have to like it, or him, but that's a lot of assumptions you are making about him (that he's 25? He's not), and his qualifications (that he has a trendy Instagram account? Hmmm, mostly pictures of his kids). You are, however, right about one thing, he is a nice, progressive human. Only in our business would that be considered a bad thing. I'm pretty sure you don't lead anything of note because if you did, you wouldn't feel so bitter about seeing someone you clearly don't know do better than you, which begs a question about how well you applied what the best of the best had to teach you. Well done, Jon. Brilliant stuff.

Modern Times said:

@Whaat

You’re not really smart are you. It was a very positive comment championing Jon. And you thought I was being negative.

@Modern Times said:

Wasn't directed at you to be fair it was directed at the person who called bullshit on you a few comments later. @@Modern Times would have been more accurate. Sorry. Your comment was spot on and I was whole heartedly agreeing with you.

@Whaaat? said:

Do you even read? The comment isn't about Jon. It's about the industry. We all know Jon isn't 25 you numpty. The point of the comment is that experience (and years of it) not just 1 or 2 count for something. The sad reality is you don't have to be a creative long before you become a CD before you quickly jump to ECD and then get out of the game at 35 disillusioned and running a coffee shop.
p.s No one is saying Jon is 35 either.

Will said:

Jon was one of those scary good ones when I worked with him. You just knew. He made you question your existence in the department because his talent and interpersonal skills were so evident. Well done mate.

Proud creative partner said:

I've witnessed the multiple times when this guy can rescue a job that is heading south quickly (sometimes at the saviour of those in higher positions). When he can passionately pursue an opportunity that wasn't clear to most. And inspire the creatives and other departments around him to to all head in one direction for the sake of the work.

Plus clients love his sexy charm.

All the ingredients to make a great ECD as far as I'm concerned. Sounds like a lot of bitterness and jealousy above.

Congrats dude, fully deserved!

Julia said:

Congrats Jon, you'll (continue) to smash it x

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