Tom McFarlane inducted into AWARD Hall of Fame
M&C Saatchi’s founding creative director, Tom McFarlane has been inducted into the AWARD Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Sydney.
M&C Saatchi’s founding creative director took his place among adland’s greats as just the 17th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association awards ceremony.
According to the AWARD charter, the Hall of Fame is reserved for “the best of the very best. For pioneers who have defined a generation and shaped creativity. Those that have been on top, stayed there and will always be there. The very few we can call legends”.
AWARD chair Wilf Sweetland said: ‘Letting Tom Mac know that he was to be inducted as this year’s recipient was both an honour and a career highlight for me. AWARD introduced the Hall of Fame in 2009. Nominations are sought from our membership base before being put to the committee.
‘This year’s AWARD committee voted unanimously for Tom McFarlane. Tom has had an impact like no other creative leader over the past three decades. His credentials span a decades long career in agency leadership, his building of M&C Saatchi into a creative powerhouse, his contribution to many of the strongest and longest-running campaigns for so many famous brands, and his legacy in discovering and nurturing the careers of countless industry creatives.’
McFarlane’s storied career began in Melbourne as a young despatch boy. Four years of part-time study at RMIT, and four agencies later he headed to London to hone his writing skills.
At 34, he was appointed executive creative director at J Walter Thompson Melbourne, followed by several years in the same role at DDB Melbourne. A major turning point came in May 1996 when he received an offer from friend Tom Dery, his former MD at DDB, just a year after Dery had opened M&C Saatchi’s first international office.
Within a year of McFarlane taking the creative tiller, the new entity had 14 clients, 39 staff, an Agency of the Year title and an office in Macquarie St. His uniquely effective creative approach has been key to sustaining that remarkable run of year-on-year growth and acclaim that continues to this day. M&C Saatchi now boasts more than 400 staff, 14 businesses, 32 Agency of the Year titles, one Agency of the Decade crown and a who’s who of iconic brands on its roster.
Crucial to McFarlane’s copywriting gifts is an ability to cut right to the heart of any brief and a pitch perfect ear for the Australian vernacular – one that his work has added considerably to over the decades thanks to his hand in some of the most memorable campaigns for the nation’s biggest brands.
McFarlane’s genius has cut through the age of media disruption with big brand platforms such as CAN for Commbank, NRMADE better, 100%Pure New Zealand, ‘That’s why I pick Woolies’, and globally, the Flying Reimagined platform for Etihad. At the start of 2016, McFarlane threw himself into heading up creative on the giant Woolworths business, which he was instrumental in winning back after a four-year absence.
McFarlane has also been a prodigious identifier and nurturer of talent. Many young creatives blessed with his generous tutelage over the years have gone on to become huge players, both in Australia and overseas, such as Matt Eastwood, Ben Welsh and Gavin McLeod, to name a few.
McFarlane himself commented: “For me, it is always about finding a big idea that will genuinely help a client’s business grow, nurturing young talent and watching an industry I love continue to flourish.
“Along the way I have been privileged to work with so many talented people, who are also good people. Not the least Tom Dery who has been my partner and friend for over 27 years.
“I am immeasurably proud that so many successful people in agencies here and around the world began, or grew their careers at M&C Saatchi Australia. It’s been a hell of a ride, wild at times, but always fun.”