Jonathan Fraser is co-founder and chief strategy officer at full-service agency Trouble Maker. We ask him about his day-to-day role, the digital and advertising trends of the moment, and his favourite ad campaigns of recent times. 

Econsultancy: Tell me about your role… What does a typical day look like for you? 

Jonathan Fraser: My day starts off by being woken up at 5:30am by a dog I didn’t want, but of course now love. Once the children are up, I make sure they are prepped for school and drop them off. 

I embark on my journey to our new office and listen to a variety of podcasts such as ‘The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry’, where I’ve recently been learning about – ‘how does anaesthetic work?’. No-one knows the answer if you’re wondering (which is mental isn’t it?). I also listen to a lot of stand-up comedy as it’s a great way to tap into cultural insights and get an idea of how people are feeling in the world. 

Once I arrive at the office, I avoid the temptation to play the pinball machine and instead review the live decks we are working on. This gives me an overview of the current work and allows me to sit down with the team and collaborate on the next steps. After I’ve caught up with everyone, I use my afternoons to focus on specific tasks that require long periods of concentration. 

E: What are ad budgets looking like right now? Where are people investing? 

JF: Recently we’re seeing ad budgets being used in more interesting ways. It’s easy to say let’s make a TV ad and then chop it up and use that content everywhere, but if we are trying to make marketing budgets more effective, we need to think differently.  

Social-first is our recommended approach due to its effectiveness and ability to resonate with audiences – always bear in mind the goal is to outsmart rather than outspend. 

E: What recent advertising campaigns have you admired? 

JF: It’s got to be when Adidas transformed an ancient tomb into a 3D billboard to reveal the new Saudi kit. It was an eye-catching stunt that got the whole internet talking. Even though it wasn’t real, it resonated well with people and drew attention to the new kit.

Media owners say you can’t fake campaigns, but I think fake stunts unleash creativity as you aren’t restricted by reality. 

E: What is an underrated or burgeoning ad channel in your opinion and why? 

JF: Creating content IP is underrated. During the pandemic, production companies couldn’t make enough content, resulting in broadcasters changing their rules on how they make brand-funded programming. Brands are now creating broadcast-quality ideas and broadcasters are more open to funding them. It’s a smart route as you can capture all the advertising content on set, plus there is built-in distribution.

This format allows extra content to be created and is engagement-led, showcasing the product being used in a more subtle way rather than a hard sell. It’s a win-win situation that brands have yet to fully embrace in my opinion. 

E: What trends or innovations do you predict will come to the forefront of your industry in the next 12 months? 

JF: AR has been having a resurgence for a few years. When it first came onto the scene the tech felt quite gimmicky, but recently it’s shown its full potential. We saw AR filter into people’s everyday lives as a source of entertainment and games, such as Pokémon Go taking the world by storm.  

This adoption of AR in everyday life paved the way for it to also be utilised as a marketing tool. It’s an interactive way to engage with consumers, and I believe it will become a regular touchpoint in campaigns for brands going forward. The launch of Apple’s Vision Pro will only accelerate this. 

E: What advice would you give to a marketer in your industry or category? 

JF: Don’t be too insular. It’s important to engage with the world and the people around you whom you are no doubt going to be communicating with at some point. Break out of the echo chamber and read Take A Break magazine just as much as The Economist.

Open your eyes to as much as you possibly can and never be afraid to challenge and change a process. Always ask why, and always believe there is a better way something can be done differently – as there most likely is! 

E: What’s your particular focus at Trouble Maker for the next 3 months? 

JF: We’ve spent the last three years building solid foundations and finding the best people. We are now match-fit for growth. The next three months are about bringing Trouble Maker to life and continuing to deliver outstanding work for our clients. Oh, and we’ve just moved into a new office in Covent Garden, so we’re finishing unpacking boxes and finding out how to use Zoom on the new TV screens…