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#Newsmaker: M&C Saatchi Abel's Jason Harrison on its successful eight-year partnership with Heineken

M&C Saatchi Abel recently announced that its client, Heineken, was crowned SA's top beer for the third year in a row at the recent Sunday Times Top Brands Awards. M&C Saatchi Abel founding partner and group managing director Jason Harrison said Heineken winning, yet, again is a validation of a successful eight-year partnership.
M&C Saatchi Abel founding partner and group managing director, Jason Harrison. Image supplied.
M&C Saatchi Abel founding partner and group managing director, Jason Harrison. Image supplied.

We caught up with Harrison who lets us in on what the secret to a successful agency/client partnership is. He also elaborates on his career in advertising, and what excites him most about M&C Saatchi Abel and where it's heading.

Congrats on your achievement. How do you feel about it?

Immensely proud. They say a client doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and for the whole agency, we really do care about the success of Heineken – as it was one of our very first clients who gave us a chance when we first opened our doors. The fact that we have been able to do this three times in a row, as one team, is also a testament to our eight-year relationship.

What is the secret to a successful agency/client partnership?Trust. You cannot achieve anything meaningful without it. When you truly trust each other, it allows you to respect each other’s opinions, and build a relationship with openness and honesty. That is when the magic happens.

What excites you most about the agency and where it’s going?

It’s our 10th birthday, next year February, and I am amazed at how quickly time has flown and what we have managed to achieve together with our clients. So, I am looking forward to celebrating that with our people and our clients – with tequila of course! What excites me every day is the people I work with: my partners are phenomenal and inspire me daily, and the fresh and hot talent we are attracting into the agency is hugely exciting.

What do you love most about your career in advertising?

The power of ideas: I have always had a fascination with an industry that can take something completely intangible and shape it into something so tangible and powerful. I really am happiest when I am closest to the thinking, work and genius people who make it.

The power of people: I’ve always been someone who wants to get the best out of people. As I tell new starters at the agency, my job is simple: “To help you be your best selves”. I love knowing what I have put into people (that sometimes they only realise much later on) and how they then fly as a result. It's hugely rewarding for me. If I didn’t get into advertising, I would have been a teacher.

Any career highlights you’re particularly proud of?

The Street Store is a huge career highlight for me. It still continues to make a difference globally and we are closing in on the 1,000th store in December. It was a simple idea that started in the agency, with talented people, that we got behind and invested a great deal of our time and money into making happen because we believed in its power to make the world a better place.

What are you most looking forward to/enjoying so far?

We’ve done 10 years and now we are gearing the company up for the next 10. We have some pretty audacious plans and, globally, the M&C Saatchi network is going to be focussing on a single objective: making our companies the home to the creative entrepreneur. That is a wildly exciting vision (especially for a London Stock Exchange-listed company) and we believe it is where we will continue to be indispensable to our clients.

What’s at the top of your to-do list (at work)?

2020 budgets #sigh.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to for work?

A must-read for anyone in advertising is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. It’s the story of Pixar and overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration. Also loving Peaky Blinders on Netflix at the moment. The podcast I enjoy listening to is How I Built This with Guy Raz. He always has great speakers, who have done some seriously awesome stuff.

Tell us something about yourself not generally known?

I am actually the best trail runner in our #runsofanarchy running group, I am just holding myself back to make them feel better.

For news and updates click through to the M&C Saatchi press office and connect with Harrison on LinkedIn.

About Juanita Pienaar

Juanita is the editor of the marketing & media portal on the Bizcommunity website. She is also a contributing writer.

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