Young People are Taking Over

Young People are Taking Over

By Mandy Nelson of G&A Creative Agency

g&a the giveback agency christchurch

(Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)


I’ve heard it said that it is not until policemen start to appear incredibly young can you consider yourself grown-up. But what does it mean when not only the boys in blue but also the seats of power start to look like kids? Look at Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau. (I know I did. Several times.) Look at our own Jacinda Ardern. Hell, look at Kim Jong Un. In spite of that last one, I have a gut feeling that things are probably unfolding exactly as they should.

I’ve accumulated a modicum of wisdom and a few battle scars over the years. I’m still not always entirely clear where I am but I’m pretty sure I have arrived somewhere. I was looking for a goalpost, finishing line, prize, or a sign of sorts – and I am confident a numb bum from sitting in an office chair for 33 years is that sign. I have happily dialled down pressure to ‘acquire’ because I actually have enough stuff to last me the rest of my life. Anyone want a couple of office chairs surplus to needs? I now feel lighter and simply want to ‘do’ and ‘be’ more, not ‘buy’ and ‘own’ more. I’ll never be wealthy or powerful like Kim Jong Un, but I am staring down a kaleidoscope of options, ready to build new purpose, exploit a rare opportunity to learn something just for fun, and generally shake the shit out of some unexpected adventures in far-off places. This is a sparky place full of energy: possibly a launch-pad and maybe even a black hole. I can see the entrance – but not the exit.


G&A the giveback agency christchurch

After 33 years in business (Is there a Christchurch advertising, design or marketing agency that has operated for longer under one ownership?), we, that’s Mandy and Grant, are passing the reins over to Emma Cameron.


G&A young people are taking over emma cameron grant nelson mandy nelson christchurch agency


Let’s acknowledge it: she’s been doing the hard graft behind much of the creative and all of the design and artwork here at G&A for a while now. And to mark the agency’s new driver and change of direction, there’s a new brand. Of course there is a new brand! G&A Creative Agency will henceforth be known as the Giveback Agency, still G&A to our friends. Grant and Mandy will continue to work on marketing and creative strategy for clients, fronting major projects and bringing in new business. But with the call to manage a couple of marketing projects in Australia in 2018, we’ll be doing much of that from a greater distance.

A digital native, Emma has already brought high energy, experience in running social media campaigns and her youthful outlook to G&A over the past few years. Now she’s going to push out G&A’s horizons towards new industry sectors and delve deeper into better ways of getting all clients a return on their investment through exposure online and over social media, alongside traditional marketing, branding and advertising strategies.

G&A the giveback agency christchurch


Watch out for G&A’s developing emphasis on social conscience marketing, because we believe there are better ways of doing business in the 21st century. Good people demand accountability and lead by example, right? Social conscience marketing is where promotions not only expose your own brand but also help a cause, community group or charity. Check out the new G&A website for more detail on all that.

You reap what you sow in life. There can be no better season than Christmas to generally infect as many people as possible with the giving bug and offer Emma our full support.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all at G&A – the Giveback Agency.


G&A christmas



It will be business as usual at the new Giveback Agency (G&A) for all existing clients. Emma will be the primary contact from Monday 18th of December through the comfortingly familiar email addresses and phone number. We’ll all have some quiet time from December 22nd and reopen after the Christmas break on January 8th, 2018.







Add a Monkey.

Add a Monkey.

By Mandy Nelson

monkey chimp mailchimp christmas


We’ve racked up another working year and will complete the Year of the Monkey early in 2017. The year 2016 has, I think, gone a bit tits-up. It feels like a Quentin Tarantino-directed movie, what with the Syrian situation, Brexit, Donald Trump, earthquakes, storms, floods and the deaths of musicians who basically held the fabric of the whole universe together. The onus is on me to give it a happy ending by writing a festive Christmas Chimp, surely the appropriate way to communicate in the Year of the Monkey.

That got me wondering why MailChimp is called what it is – because, well, that is how my mind works. I bow to Google, as you do, for the answer to all stupendously trivial questions. I would have been more surprised not to find it. Turns out some dude named Ben Chestnut working for a web development company called Rocket Science cobbled together some leftover scrap code and developed MailChimp in 2007. He said: “We had this philosophy when it came to our web design projects: ‘If all else fails, add a monkey. Clients love monkeys.’ So we called it ChimpMail. Then we learned the domain was taken. So we called it MailChimp.” At this point I developed a strong urge to tell Ben that a chimp is actually a great ape, not a monkey, but I couldn’t find his email address.


mailchimp monkey christmas


MailChimp has a mascot named Frederick von Chimpenheimer IV, or Freddie for short. Ben Chestnut reveals “We really didn’t spend that much time fostering his image or brand or anything. It was our customers and employees who brought him to life and gave him his personality.” I really like this comment because it shows a deep understanding of branding and marketing by that old Chestnut, Ben. He clearly gets that customers actually own the brand, and that brand development is a somewhat interactive process. I’m starting to feel Ben and I are on common ground.

I decide I have nothing against monkeys. Or apes. In fact, my birth year in the Chinese zodiac is the year of the monkey. I ponder whether Ben might also be a zodiac monkey in which case he will supposedly be witty and intelligent with a magnetic personality and is a teeny bit naughty. Monkeys are fast learners and crafty opportunists. Add ambitious and irritable to those traits if you are a fire monkey like me. I now want to fully embrace Ben’s philosophy of ‘add a monkey’ as a mantra for all aspects of my life.


mailchimp monkey christmas


I’m on a roll. I search for munky next and discover American musician James Christian Shaffer, better known by his stage name ‘Munky’, co-founder and guitarist of the nu metal band Korn. His nickname ‘Munky’ is a reference to his feet which resemble monkey’s hands when spread. I think I love him.



So, more is better, right? I search deep and dark, and meet munkey, a sub-species of the human race developed by modern governments to ensure production. These beings demonstrate agression and racism, and political and religious extremism, but make up for their shortcomings by paying taxes. Munkeys see evil, hear evil and speak evil. Munkey seems like the personification of 2016 but I can’t see how he adds anything to Christmas cheer. I uninvite munkey to all seasonal jollification but file him in a secure, dank, mental vault for future reference.


chimp monkey christmas


We don’t get a lot of monkeys or great apes in New Zealand outside of zoos, but rare Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork actually snuck into our country late in November without me noticing, and performed only metres from where I work. They probably even walked down my street. In the spirit of the season, I Googled them too, to see if they have a Christmas song and it turns out they do. Yay!  It’s an ancient carol in Spanish and it’s completely charming.


Merry Christmas
from G&A Creative Agency!

With Monkees.


The Annual Slide – Christmas!

The Annual Slide – Christmas!

By Mandy Nelson

Those last few days of work before the much-anticipated annual break in routine are upon us and we are sliding into Christmas here at G&A. We are a little unsure whether that’s uphill or downhill – but it’s definitely a slide. There are work deadlines to meet, there is seasonal emotional labour and, on top of all that, serial socialising is swamping the calendar – which can be translated as ‘there is wine crying out to be drunk’.

It’s that week in the year when the least-organised of you might find yourselves not only hung over but also pressured to finish up all sorts of projects. Good luck with that. Avoid losing the plot by following our advice! It’s taken us more than two decades to work out our priorities, but we think we now have it sussed. Folks, this is what we do and don’t do to melt into Christmas appearing cool, calm and collected.

christmas g&a creative agency christchurch

Even the eyeballs are sliding

1)   Deadlines.
If you rank these quite highly on the short-term priority list, you get to come back to a job or a business in the new year. We say gird the loins and deal with or delegate your deadlines. Chores like doing laundry, buying socks and cooking can go by the wayside to ensure you fit work deadlines in. Why cook when personal research confirms you can successfully survive on free canapés over this season for at least four days in a row, supplemented only by strong coffee. And wine, of course. As for the laundry and socks, remember it’s supposed to be summer. Wear sandals. Work might just be who you really are – so get your deadlines sorted.

2)   Revisiting the liquor store.
The wealthy among you can skip this because you can afford to catch up at any classy little bar at a moment’s notice and fork out for the more expensive way of getting a Christmas buzz on. No prep needed. The rest of you need to programme yourselves to pass the grog shop on autopilot every time you leave the house, and return with a bottle or two. That way you are always ready to receive friends, family and freeloaders. Don’t worry. You’ll get them back by dropping in unannounced any time over the holidays. It’s what Kiwis do.

3)   Buying great stuff for your kids, and socks.
Babies and toddlers know nothing of Christmas so they are really cheap. Forget about them altogether. They’ll happily play with the wrapping paper from someone else’s gift anyway. Order something online that gets delivered to your office for your significant other and the older kids in your life. And for Grandma, because she is statistically likely to be a widow and no other bugger will remember. Everyone else gets socks.

4)   Hosting Christmas Dinner.
Oh, you have aged parents still alive who now expect you to take on this role? You poor thing. Double-check their capabilities. Any parents still coupled, under the age of 85 and not actually in a wheelchair, have a moral and cultural obligation to feed you and your kids on Christmas Day. What else have they got to do? If desperate, book Christmas dinner at a hotel and take them too. They might even offer to pay.

5)   Keeping pot plants alive.
Look here, you can order these from Amazon and use up all those empty wine bottles to water your plants:

Christmas g&A creative agency christchurch

Red and white are Christmas colours

If you are on a budget, create little water reservoirs with used two-litre plastic soda bottles. Cut them off at the base and pierce small holes in the cap. Bury them cap down to about a third of their length beside your plants without disturbing the roots too much, fill them with water and they’ll stay moist for at least a week. (Pause here briefly to reflect on what a truly awesome word ‘moist’ is.) Move the containers into the shade too. These bottles won’t fit in smaller containers so you’ll need to set up a wicking system for baby plants. We’ve Googled that for you, right here:

Follow these simple priorities and, like us, you are good to go. May your holiday break be completely fabulous and your return to routine next year be greeted by the lushest of verdant pot plants and a clean calendar.

OMG! Something for Nothing!

OMG! Something for Nothing!

Maybe it is the deluge of marketing information out there that is confusing. Perhaps it is cost or a lack of time that holds them back. Or perhaps they are trying to do it themselves and don’t prioritise marketing. Whatever the case, there is no doubt some business leaders struggle to market their brand well and often. Others do market their brand well, but are paying more than they need for the exposure they are getting and would get a better return on investment (ROI) for a more targetted approach and a lower spend.

It’s confusing – but not inpenetrable

Talking to an expert seems the sensible thing to do before developing a marketing strategy or plan. We at G&A Creative Agency (G&A) can help with that. Director Grant Nelson is happy to meet with you for an hour at no cost to talk marketing. Grant has more than 31 years’ experience in conventional and multi-media marketing, advertising, graphic design and production management. He loves to chat and will probably even shout you a coffee. Discussion could cover what has worked for your organisation in the past; the latest channels to market, and how the return on your marketing investment is more easily measurable these days. At the least, you will probably leave with a few free hints on how to ‘up’ your marketing game.

Easy Social Media (ESM) in partnership with G&A is also happy to help by offering you a 30-day free trial of social media management aimed to generate attention online for you. You won’t have to battle through the constantly morphing cloud of social media platforms to work out what’s best for you.You will have your business Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ pages set up and managed for you, for one calendar month, saving you heaps of time. If you don’t like the results of your 30-day trial, you pay nothing. If you do, and wish to carry on, you still get your first 30 days free.

When did social media get so huge?

Check out ESM’s street cred over at:

Take up our offer of an hour’s free consultation with a marketing expert and a 30-day free trial of social media management by emailing Grant Nelson with your details. This offer closes at the end of November 2015.

Market with a Conscience

Market with a Conscience

By Mandy Nelson

Get a social conscience.

We’re becoming immune to traditional ways of marketing. On top of that, most advertising media are too expensive for small-to-medium enterprises. Cold calling and direct mail don’t have the impact they used to have. What is a business to do!

Every business still needs to commit to an annual amount tagged for marketing that is seen as a cost of sales generating a return on investment, not as an expense to the business. This marketing budget must be allocated to extract the best possible value. Businesses should be prepared to spend a portion of it on highly original creative concepts. Excellent creative thinking must apply not only to the content of your campaign but also to channels through which you reach your market. Social media outlets are going to feature in almost every promotion. These channels are affordable, can be professionally managed, cleverly targetted and the results are measurable – sometimes in real time. Can’t afford print media? Think laterally about options like t-shirts worn at a big event; chalk pavement art; or organising a flash mob performance by your local sports club outside a big game and spreading a video of that over social media. Think about aligning your business with another business, organisation or charity that shares your values, location, goals – or provides a complementary service to your business. Consider anything that is legal and visible to your target!

We ran a campaign recently for Paul Reed Homes, a Christchurch-based building company with no significant history of advertising and no social media presence. Our strategy was to create a socially-concious programme with a large component of social media activity. The budget had to cover creative concepts and social media costs as well as a $5,000 donation to charity.

scoial conscience marketing

Example post on Paul Reed Home’s Facebook page

Here’s how it worked.
• G&A developed a campaign concept that reflected the values and brand of Paul Reed Homes and creatively connected him with other organisations having compatible values: a win-win situation.
• G&A and social media managers ESM set up a brand new Facebook page for Paul Reed Homes.
• Paul Reed Homes purchased $5,000 worth of warm woollen gloves at the start of winter from local manufacturer Untouched World, a well-established local manufacturer and retailer with an excellent reputation, a social conscience and good level of social media following.
• Paul Reed Homes donated the gloves to the Christchurch City Mission, chosen as a trusted organisation with the facility and knowledge to distribute these to those who need them.
• G&A photographed the pick-up and delivery of the gloves by Paul Reed and wrote a media release emphasising the use of a marketing budget in a socially-conscious way.
• The media release and photos were sent to the right journalist at the Christchurch Press, who wrote and published a story which subsequently reached an estimated 25,000 readers and attracted 100 per cent positive comment online.
• Untouched World and the Christchurch City Mission were invited ‘like’ Paul Reed Home’s page and to share the story on their social media sites, which they did.
• Paul Reed Home’s Facebook page ran a ‘teaser’ campaign prior to the newspaper article showing Paul Reed himself revealing facts and figures about Christchurch’s homeless and needy. The last posting revealed what he was going to do about it: i.e. lead by example, donate gloves to the City Mission and invite others to do the same. Over a period of about three weeks, this new page gained 77 targetted ‘likes’ without investing in aditional page promotion.
• To make it easy for others to donate, G&A and ESM worked with Paul Reed Homes to set up a Givealittle page for one month where the public could give funds to purchase more warm gloves.
• The only conventional advertising ran in Avenues magazine in August, inviting donations to the Givealittle page.

Social conscience marketing

Print ad for Paul Reed Homes

Paul Reed Homes has begun an evolving long-term generic branding programme and delivered a clear message about its company values. The company can expand upon this type of campaign every year, aligning itself with different businesses for mutual benefit, and organisations it can help. These might include community groups, a school, or other charities that need fundraising. The nature of house building suggests that new business will not be instant but the company’s name is now getting visibility. It is important that future campaigns exhort the same values and are persistent yet flexible enough to carry new creative. Watch this space!

The Importance of Storytelling

The Importance of Storytelling

By Mandy Nelson

We love to create stuff that is in advance of popular culture. Our own brand promise, developed about five years ago, is: ‘We bring your story to life’. We are modestly chuffed to confirm that we were ahead of the pack on recognising storytelling as a marketing tool. Our brand promise remains relevant today and concisely encompasses everything we do.

In detail, that means G&A Creative Agency provides a complete range of marketing services, from sourcing research through to producing a live website, print promotion or newsworthy original event, by providing the creative talent, technical skills and network needed to build and bring that product or organisation’s unique story to life for their target market.

We love the symbolism of storytelling since it is similtaneously cross-cultural, ancient and contemporary. Stories have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, communication and instilling moral values. The art of storytelling predates writing yet stories can be written; stories can incorporate imagery, costume and music, flow through every medium and stimulate every sensory organ. Yes, even those ones.

We think there are several stories that should be told at different stages of your customer’s life-cycle as you work through your organisation’s customer touchpoint programme.

1)   Your brand story. This is the legend your must build first around your product, service or organisation based on its values and unique marketable point of difference. It is not something your customer will typically see: however, it will underpin every promotional campaign you create and must be authentic.

2)   Your creative campaign story – the most visible story. You need highly original stories for each promotional campaign that support your brand and values and belong together like a family, and are distributed through appropriate marketing channels: i.e. highway billboard versus free public lecture versus social media campaign or YouTube video.

3)   Your customer relationship story. You might benefit from writing the story of your ideal or typical customer’s journey through your touchpoint programme from initial awareness to advocacy. Don’t forget to record conflict and how you resolved it; work through the aging process if relevant and its implications on your customer; and consider whether the user of your product is the same person who actually makes the decision or purchases under instruction.