Richard Brett | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2023

Richard Brett

CEO, PR & Health
Ogilvy PR Australia


Our focus should be on earned, and earned can touch not just media, but stakeholders, influencers, social and content.”

As CEO for Ogilvy PR and Ogilvy Health, Richard Brett currently leads a team of 160 across four cities to deliver consumer PR, public affairs, influencer marketing, sustainability, corporate, B2B, investor relations and an integrated healthcare offer. He also leads the firm’s highly successful thought leadership programs, including Futures, which outlines forthcoming insights that will impact Australian business, government, brands and organisations, as well as the Believability Index. Recently, Brett has implemented a wide-ranging repositioning that has seen Ogilvy PR adopt a management consulting approach, helping it land Agency of the Year and Agency of the Future honours at the 2023 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards. 

How do you define innovation?
Finding a new way to solve a problem based on a fresh insight or application of technology. This can mean reinventing a tried approachwith new technology, or joining up previously unrelated concepts or approaches in a new way.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
I love the Correct the Internet campaign which highlighted and went to address the fact that search engines under represent women in sporting achievements, shining a light on the bias that exists in data.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
KFC continues to deliver bold and innovative campaigns. AB InBev continues to showcase bold and innovative work such as Corona's Extra Lime.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
Developing and launching the Ogilvy PR Believability Index. Misinformation is the greatest challenge to effective communication today, so a tool to help us assess organisations', brands' and individuals' believability with a robust methodology is a critical tool.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Zaha Hadid is one of my all time heroes and reinvented our understanding of what shape a building could form.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Take a break. Get out of the office. I often have the ta-dah moment when I am running or walking the dogs!

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Be more ambitious. I observe that sometimes the industry can get stuck in what it knows - media relations - when the world is rapidly changing. Our focus should be on earned, and earned can touch not just media, but stakeholders, influencers, social and content. This is the future and we need to approach our industry with a more integrated, earned-first focus.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
An architect - I'm obsessed with buildings and their form and function and how the two interplay. I have huge admiration for beautiful and statement buildings.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
The New York Times Hard Fork podcast is a great summary of upstream technology that is impacting, and will change, the world and in turn our industry.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Three ways. Firstly for the campaigns we deliver we can use technology to highlight DE&I. The Correct the Internet campaign I mentioned above is a great example. Secondly by ensuring that we partner with diverse names that represent our audiences, and commit to using a diverse and inclusive range of influencers. Thirdly by doing new things. A lot of companies talk a good game, but don't actually take enough action. This year Ogilvy PR ANZ launched the Laz Simons Creative Cadetship which is an annual paid three month internship for someone who wants to get into the creative industries but faces challenges and barriers.