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8 AUNZ Indie Agencies That Roared in 2022


LBB’s Esther Faith Lew rounds up the alternative creative minds that took brands from bold to boundaryless

8 AUNZ Indie Agencies That Roared in 2022

Nothing is predictable these days, whether it’s the weather, the economy or consumer behaviour. And when life throws curveballs at us, what can brands do to weather the storm and come out singing? Well, they need creative help that will come with ideas swinging from left field and help turn the lemons into marmalade. 

Even better if they come armed to the teeth with knowledge and expertise in behavioural science, cultural and data insights and emotive thinking to straight-up bravery, new-world thinking, and just being plain old special.

LBB finds out what makes these independent agencies tick and why they deserve due recognition.

Bear Meets Eagle on Fire

“We’re a creative studio that helps good people and brands think and make things differently - from brand and brand design right through to more integrated communication. As for what we stand for, I’d say it’s distinctive ideas, crafted hard.  

“We don’t normally pitch, but this year we did and we won a brand assignment for one of Australia’s most iconic brands, NRMA Insurance.

“We’ve also done some lovely social work on a relatively new brand we helped create last year called ROLLiN’ and we collaborated with US betting brand Rivalry to launch in Australia with a boxing video game called PM Fighter.”


“Our shape. Our experience. Caring hard. Our teams are concentrated, but proven, so you’re partnering with a bespoke team across every assignment. I think it’s a refreshing alternative to the usual layers and inefficiency of the legacy agency model.”

3 Wishes for 2023:

  • 2023 is better and more productive. 
  • We get a brief that’s genuinely bonkers.
  • Arsenal wins the league.


“Make better things.”

 - Micah Walker, CCO/FOUNDER


“We stand for digging deeper to grow brands and people. Brands now more than ever need to dig deeper to unlock insight that fuels great creative ideas.

"2022 was a year where we demonstrated the combined power of insight and creativity. In conjunction with our sister research and strategy agency, T garage we launched CultureCast, which focuses on identifying cultural trends that will shape brands.

"In creative work, we launched the challenger campaign for Mitre 10 –  the Other Hardware Store, and the results have been fantastic, likewise for Tena Men (market leader in incontinence) of “Wear it with Confidence”. The work we did for 3M Post-It notes  “A little Space to think” was also a powerful idea that took an analogue product in and made it relevant in the digital world

"In business, we won new clients that include the RACV an iconic Australian brand and market leaders in insurance and roadside assistance."


"We are deeper on insight. We achieve this through our insights prowess and platform DigSight combined with our creative teams."

"People. We are structured with a different DNA where people possess expertise across disciplines."

"We listen."

3 Wishes for 2023

  • Retain our people through a focus on culture. 
  • Happy clients. 
  • Clients to realise more and more the true value of creativity in pushing the boundaries from a comms perspective and in shaping the entire customer experience.


“Dig deeper. Find something less expected, more powerful.”

- Paul Rhodes, CEO


“Emotive creates ideas that change the way people feel about brands. Our brand essence is emotive thinking. Our highlights of the year include the opening of our new HQ at Coogee Beach, and we now stand at 19 new hires, with the agency at 55:45 female-male split (including across our management team). We also secured exciting masterbrand campaigns including NRL, Providoor, UniSQ, The Glenlivet, KIIS and Church Road.” 


“Our creative collective approach - 14 Creative Directors from diverse backgrounds who have true ownership of the work and no CCO. This refreshingly top-heavy approach is an antidote to the familiar gripe in the industry of ‘juniorisation’, and makes for a more collaborative environment and more contented creatives.”

Wishes for 2023:

  • More colouring outside the lines, the budget, the brief
  • Lunch time swims at Coogee beach become the norm
  • We do the best work of our lives


“One simple vision. The best place to work to do the best work of your life.”

- Simon Joyce, CEO / Founder


“At Hardhat, we believe that every brief is a behaviour change brief. We believe that behaviour change happens through improving desirability and ease, which is why we’ve built our agency around the two key disciplines of creative comms (desirability) and digital CX (ease). Nobody has more to gain from changing behaviour than challenger brands.

"The year’s highlights include getting re-inspired at SXSW. We also took the reins on all things behavioural science for ADMA, and it was satisfying to have seen our DocuSign work roll out across Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines.”


“Everything we do is built on behaviour. We lean in to leverage our deep understanding of behavioural science to inform our strategies and inspire our creative outputs. The result is an unfair advantage for Hardhat clients.”

3 Wishes for 2023

  • More IRL coffees, conversations and fist bumps.
  • More inspiring clients taking on audacious challenges.
  • Two more hours a day. Pretty please. 


“We are champions of the challenger!”

- Dan Monheit, co-founder and director of stratefy

Howatson + Company

“Our people define Howatson+Company. We hire for attitude, seeking out people who demonstrate our defining value to ‘Care Fiercely’. That is, we fiercely seek out the most meaningful and salient solutions for our clients, but do so with care for each other, our clients and the communities we exist in.

"Our second year in 2022 saw the shift from start up to scale up. We demonstrated our ability to build our breadth of specialisms, maintain our standard of creativity, and deliver commercially effective work for every client, earning us recognition as Global Independent AOTY at D&AD. We also matured in our culture and grew from 30 people to 110, with a strong pipeline of work that moved our clients forward.”


“The most inventive people think, communicate and work in perfect balance across their brain functions – analytical, practical, relational, experimental. But only 3% of the workforce are born with this balanced cognitive diversity. To mimic the breakthrough output of these people, our operating model harmonises each of our individual breakout talents to create a balanced whole. It’s a system we call “intersectional creativity” and is why our work is consistently defined by a meaningful idea, salient craft and distinctive orchestration.”

3 Wishes for 2023

“We only have one wish. That work will forever be this challenging, motivating and satisfying. Long may that continue!”


“Do the best we can for each other and our clients!”

- Chris Howatson, founder and CEO

Milk + Honey

“We are defined by our passion for everything we do. We believe you should spend your time doing what you love or you should make a change so that you are. That really is at the core of why we exist. Just as our name suggests, it’s Milk+Honey United. Always Fresh. Always Sticky.

“All our partners have been with us from the very start, and they keep pushing us forward. We love our freedom and the sense of fulfilment in building something in your own vision and not at the bequest of outside forces.”


“Experience. We have all been doing this successfully at the highest level, with the largest brands on behalf of every major network for years. We are not new to this business but our approach and offering is.”

3 Wishes for 2023

“Fame, fun, and fortune.”


“Spread your wings, it's time to soar.”

- Steve Jackson & Andy DiLallo, founding partners

Motion Sickness

“We are defined by our innovation, bravery, independent thinking, and common sense. We’re an agency for the new world, creating disruptive work that cuts through the bullshit. We always strive to build brands and campaigns that are culturally relevant for today. A magic formula of intuitive strategy + hot execution + an ambitious creative approach.

"Our highlights of the year included seeing the work we created resonating with New Zealand, and the opportunity to work alongside a squad of the best minds in the business. It’s been nine years in the advertising industry and we’re still having fun!”


“An instinct for ideas that people will actually notice, remember, and want to engage with.”

3 Wishes for 2023

  • To continue to enjoy work and not become a cynical old ad man.
  • For myself and all the team to continue to prosper in whatever next pandemic, recession, or crisis that’s thrown at us.
  • To make the best work in the world.


“Keep doing what we’re doing and focus on fresh ideas that get people talking – and brands noticed.”

- Sam Stuchbury, founder / executive creative director


“We believe the world doesn’t need more ‘average’ or ‘ordinary’. We have plenty of that. We believe the world needs more of the ‘original’, ‘wonderful’, ‘unusual’, and ‘unexpected’. In a word, more ‘special’. So everything we do is about living up to our name.

"2022 is a year of highlights. We opened new offices in New York and Wellington. Having seven Special offices globally is a vision come true. In creative work, the Kathmandu ‘Summer never Sleeps’ campaign makes me smile every time I see it. And the ‘Yawn Test’ for Nod was a social experiment that proved more contagious than Covid-19."


“The world’s most effective creativity. To be named ‘Global Creative Agency of the Year’ by Campaign UK, and then back that up by being ranked ‘#1 Most Effective independent Agency in the World’ by the Global Effie Rankings, says it all really. That’s the daily goal – pushing creativity to push effectiveness.”

3 Wishes for 2023

  • That a few more hours could be added into every day.
  • That we all lived on one time-zone.


“Life is short, make it special.”

- Tony Bradbourne, founder and CEO/CCO


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LBB Editorial, Wed, 21 Dec 2022 06:13:26 GMT