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‘This is it – the last time I will work in a network’: Andy Greenaway on his exit from Dentsu

Dentsu’s executive creative director Andy Greenaway will be leaving the agency. Speaking to Mumbrella about his decision to move on, Greenaway said: “I turned 55 this year, and at that age, you start to reevaluate life; a few people do it a bit earlier. 

“I started thinking about what I really value and think is important in the last third of my life, and decided to do my own thing. Our industry has gone through a lot of turmoil and is very different from how it used to be. I want to be a master of my own fate and fortune.”

In a statement about his departure, a spokesperson for Dentsu Aegis Network said: “Andy Greenaway will be leaving his role as executive creative director at Dentsu Singapore to pursue opportunities in the industry as well as personal interests. In the interim, Ted Lim who is currently chief creative officer at Dentsu Asia Pacific will be stepping in as we identify a suitable replacement for the role. 

“In his three years with us, Andy has led the creative team to develop work for clients that are innovative and transformative in a convergent world. We deeply appreciate Andy’s contributions to Dentsu Singapore and wish him the very best as he moves on from here.” 

His departure was apparently unrelated to the restructuring at DAN which has seen several high profile departures on the media side of the business.

Rumours of Greenaway’s exit had first surfaced in April this year. At the time, Greenaway had told Mumbrella that he was discussing a wider role within Dentsu.

Addressing this previous conversation, he said: “I was talking about doing some training and consultancy based on that. I think that just disappeared since the current financial environment is quite tough on everyone. In such situations, agencies tighten their belt.

“That’s fine – I get on very well with Dentsu and my immediate boss Ted Lim who was very supportive. He is one of the best leaders that I have worked under – he has a big heart, and is fair and yet tough on the creative product. I will maintain a relationship with Dentsu, but just not in a formal way.” 

While Greenaway said he did not have any concrete plans for the immediate future, other than taking a break, there are several areas that he was interested in.

One of these was training. He said: “I believe that agencies that invest in training will win the day. Successful agencies – Ogilvy for instance – used to invest a lot of money in people, IP, knowledge and wisdom. The situation now is starkly different from when I first joined. In those days, we were being trained once every two months. They’d send us to places like Crete for a week. The investment was enormous and it paid off because people got better. That’s been stripped away by the money men like Sorrell.”

Greenaway was clear that part of what he wanted to be involved in was training to give back to the industry. He said: “You never learn an awful lot in college in this business; you learn on the job. But now people are coming into agencies and they are not learning anything. 

“I have been in the business 34 years and have got a lot out of it. I want to help young kids be better at their job, gain knowledge and wisdom that they can’t get elsewhere. In that way, I can contribute back to the business.”

He will be involved in creating content around brand thinking and psychology, as well as a toolkit for the business called ‘Write Bigger’. He said: “In this media fragmented age, brand thinking – creating mnemonics and organising ideas – are more valuable than ever. I have written about the importance of being distinct. ‘Write Big’ is about the principles of writing great communication that will break through clutter.”

Greenaway also intends becoming brand owner, developing a chilli that his wife has created called Numbface which has acquired a small but dedicated fanbase. He said: “I want to give it a shot and see if we can make that a full fledged-brand.” 

Asked to evaluate his tenure at Dentsu, Greenaway said: “We did some nice work for Singapore Life and for Subway. It was not not award winning but real work that had an impact on sales. 

“I was with Sapient Nitro for a four and a half years where I was doing not marketing, but platform building. It was good to get into Dentsu and work with the media guys, learning the whole digital landscape and actually doing something I hadn’t done in a while: create campaigns that you can measure and see the effectiveness of.”

Asked how he felt about leaving the world of network agencies behind, he said: “When I decided to resign, it was not a midlife crisis since, I am not in midlife anymore. But I thought – ‘This is it. The last time I will work in a network.’ You get into a comfort zone about a job that’s a guarantee of income etc. 

“But once I got over that, and thought about the future and the opportunities, I felt quite excited. There’s nothing to fear, really. I’ve had people and agencies calling me up, but I really don’t want to join. I think I can have a bigger impact sitting outside the industry.”

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