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As a creative director for top advertising agencies in Australia and the UK, Matt Batten has amassed more than 120 awards, developed campaigns for the likes of Coca-Cola and even helped to save a life. The Western Sydney University Bachelor of Arts graduate and executive creative director for Edge shares his story with GradLife.
Why are you so good at what you do?
“You’re only as good as your portfolio. You need to make sure you have good ideas in the first place, but also make them saleable. I’m a rare breed in that I focus on the business of creativity.”
How did you come to work in advertising?
“I landed a job with the advertising department for Harvey Norman and from there I got a job at Saatchi & Saatchi laying out ads. Working in the city in a world famous agency I thought, ‘this is what I want to do’. I got into the top 10 of (creative training program) AWARD School, did a masterclass and then Saatchi & Saatchi made me an art director. Suddenly I had a blank pad for my ideas.”
How have your studies at Western impacted on your career?
“I’m the first and only person to have attended uni in my entire bloodline and I’m so proud to have gone. The facilities at Milperra were awesome and the lecturers were inspiring, allowing all of us to explore our passion. It also gave me an understanding of other artistic styles and that has helped me throughout my career.”
What’s your proudest achievement?
“I had a charity client that wanted to raise awareness about retinoblastoma – an aggressive and rare cancer that grows in the eyes of babies. The campaign demonstrated that the cancer can be detected by a mobile phone – how the eye appears in a flash photograph. It was shared by 69 million people worldwide and won lots of awards. After its run, a Melbourne mum rang a radio program saying she took a photo of her baby that diagnosed the cancer and saved its life. I don’t know if I could ever top that.”
Matt’s top tips for success in a competitive industry:
- Know that it’s competitive - By being aware that you’re in a cutthroat environment, you’ll stay on your A-game.
- Be easy to work with - Don’t make things a drama or a chore. There will be plenty of other people who are also good at what they do, but aren’t a nightmare to work with.
- Have a thick skin - Businesses are very risk averse. Stand your ground, push where you can, but also understand that if someone says no, it doesn’t mean they hate your idea, it’s just not right for them, or they’re too scared.
- Have fun - If you like what you’re doing, you’re onto a good start.