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    Q&A: Benjamin Harrison – ‘Australian Designers are Amongst the Best in the World’

    Harrison has recently returned to Australia from the UK.

    By Sam Roth - Jan 22, 2021
    Q&A: Benjamin Harrison – ‘Australian Designers are Amongst the Best in the World’

    We recently caught up with Benjamin Harrison who has been named Managing Director at M&C Saatchi’s brand and experience design business, Re Sydney. Harrison has held senior roles within the organization for more than six years.

    He has recently returned to Australia from the UK where he moved in 2017 to establish Re London. Under his direction the shop grew from a group of just three to a team of more than 25, eventually representing global clients such as FIFA and Swisscom. Prior to Re, Harrison spent time in New York as an account director with SCB Partners.

    Harrison dives into the differences and similarities of the UK and Australia markets as well as the effects of COVID on the industry.


    You’ve recently returned to Australia from the UK, could you discuss the difference between the two markets and what the challenges will be for you moving forward?

    The UK – and London specifically – has a global reputation as a design powerhouse. At Re London we were approached by clients in China, Israel, Switzerland and Canada wanting ‘British design’.

    “Australian designers are amongst the best in the world. For instance, if you look at Australia’s annual D&AD pencil haul, it speaks for itself.”

    Australian designers are amongst the best in the world. For instance, if you look at Australia’s annual D&AD pencil haul, it speaks for itself. However, we don’t have the reputation. We don’t have the same culture that celebrates it, or the government that promotes it – that’s what I want to be part of changing.

    You’ve previously stated that “Re’s approach of connecting board-level strategy through to everyday people through design really resonated. Clients want brand consultancy and the design craft.” Could you expand upon that and do you think it holds true in Australia?

    We call it ‘full-stack design’, connecting an organization from the C-suite to the shop floor through design. I’ve found it more relevant in Australia, where the C-suite are more likely to be on the shop floor. Organizations are realizing their CX, UX and EX strategies need to be built together.

    How has the pandemic affected Re and the industry as a whole? Do you see any long-lasting changes to the industry?

    On the positive side, technology means we’re seeing more global business and international teams. It’s less relevant where people are based now. What worries me is the equal and opposite trend: the New Provincialism. There is a fine line between brands promoting national values and nationalism.

    For example, in China we’re seeing a full-scale rejection of brands like Apple and Samsung, with consumers there are embracing Huawei with nationalistic fervor. It’s something we need to watch out for as brand practitioners.

    Are there any campaigns that you’ve loved that have come out of the pandemic?

    I think the zeitgeist was captured immaculately in the Scream therapy campaign for Iceland. The idea you could scream your Covid frustrations onto the site, and it would be released in the Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland – it’s brilliant.

    What’s your favorite campaign that you’ve worked on?

    Being in the world of design, getting to reposition and rebrand the Sydney Design Festival was extremely cool.

    I’m also very proud of the work done rebranding Swisscom with our London team. Sometimes the best thing is delivering something that is just what the client needs.

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