Matt Stoddart | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2019

Matt Stoddart

Creative Director


“One of the biggest learnings for me in my career has been to embrace collaboration”

Creative director across both ad agency TBWA and sister PR firm Eleven PR, Matt Stoddart has been involved in some of Australia’s most impactful and influential campaigns — helping to reduce gambling addiction in Victoria, guilting kids into visiting their parents in the country more often, making the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play non-stop for 24 hours, hijacking the live broadcast of the most watched sporting event in history and inventing a word about bad mobile phone etiquette that’s now in the dictionary. More recently, he was part of the team that remotely executed a 17 fleet flotilla for the United Nations that escorted Greta Thunberg into the NY Harbour, further grabbing the attention of the global media to raise awareness of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

How do you define innovation?
To find a better solution to anything and everything.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Google’s Creatability project. To give people of all abilities the tools they need to embrace and explore their creativity was really impressive. And to make it so accessible by housing it all on a URL makes it even better.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
The way Volvo delivers to their brand pillar of safety has always impressed me. From the Epic Split, to Life Paint, to more recently the E.V.A. Initiative, they constantly raise the bar with smart and memorable work, time and time again. The campaigns coming out of Adidas and Nike globally are also always pushing the boundaries of technology and engagement.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
In 2013, Macquarie Dictionary was struggling to stay relevant as a printed book in a digital world. The insight we came up with was that language is always evolving, and new words are being invented every day. Hence the importance of updating your copy of the dictionary. So, our idea was to invent a new word. A word which would name something new and topical. So, we came up with the word ‘Phubbing — the act of looking at your phone while in the presence of others’. Then through a range of media from blogs, to social, to posters, we organically fed it into society so it was adopted. Obviously if people knew a brand had made up a word and wanted people to use it, it just wouldn’t have worked. Long story short, people did adopt our word globally and ‘phubbing’ is now officially listed in most dictionaries.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
This feels like an obvious answer, but I most admire the late Steve Jobs. He was admirable for so many things, but the main one for me was the way he made technology intuitive for everyone.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I stop thinking. I do something that puts my mind into auto pilot, like bouncing a ball, or going for a walk. Then I can think clearly again.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
To not feel like you have to have all the answers. One of the biggest learnings for me in my career has been to embrace collaboration. The more perspective you have on bringing an idea to life, the more innovative it will be.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I’d love to be a writer for a sitcom. I'm a slow writer though so I don't know how long that would last. Whatever I would be doing as an alternative to my current job, it would always be a creative outlet of some kind.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
How good is John Wick? You stole my car and killed my dog… I’m gonna get you.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
From a creative thinking perspective, late at night. I’m easily distracted, so most people are asleep by then and I can focus properly.