Interviews

David Frymann, Strategy Partner, The Beyond Collective (Frontier)

"I like learning new stuff because in theory you’re meant to be the expert or teacher at this stage, but I get as much of a kick out of being a pupil, learning and then sharing those learnings."

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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Creativebrief: Please could you briefly outline your career to date.
David Frymann: My career started at TBWA\Manchester in the research department. It was a really good grounding. Then I was the analyst for the Nissan retail team helping dealerships figure out where to target in their areas. That was a good move because it meant I had exposure to TBWA\London and after a few years that stepping stone worked out quite well. I moved down to London and landed on my feet with Haagen Dazs, adidas and Nissan. I was there for another eight years, working on lots of Mars business and I went through the whole Mars Byron Sharp training in Cannes. It was an amazing experience because it was ahead of the curve and they were one of the first businesses to adopt that thinking. Then TBWA started going through a rough patch and it was time for a change. My girlfriend’s a shoe designer and so in 2010, I took some time off work and went on an amazing adventure to start a shoe brand from scratch with little experience. It’s called Fury; fierce, luxury footwear for women with a rock and roll vibe. It’s been a huge confidence boost along the way. Then, I think because of the fashion and planning, I was really fortunate to work on M&S at Rainey Kelly for two years. I loved that and afterwards moved to McCann and worked on L’Oréal which was interesting in the fact that it was an opportunity to win amazing case studies for the IPA Effectiveness Awards. I won two of those when I was there and then this new venture came knocking. I got this itch for something new and a fresh challenge. I’d worked with Zaid [Al-Zaidy, CEO, The Beyond Collective] before so we’ve got a great relationship. You realise after a while that relationships count for a heck of a lot. And having the freedom to build my own strategic offering was something I couldn’t resist.
Creativebrief: In your role as Strategy Partner, what’s your primary focus?
David Frymann: It still comes down to solving classic issues like keeping things simple, especially as the landscape gets so complex. We love this thing called the Audience Age. I love the tension of it because consumers are never more empowered, as in one person can literally change the world on the internet, but at the same time, never more disengaged with multiple screens, channels, forms of entertainment, distractions. They haven’t got time for brands and complicated messages. Keeping things simple and figuring out how to navigate in this ever-complex world in the Age of the Audience is another pull of The Beyond Collective. We’ve all got this same philosophy in mind.

We love this thing called the Audience Age. I love the tension of it because consumers are never more empowered, as in one person can literally change the world on the internet, but at the same time, never more disengaged with multiple screens, channels, forms of entertainment, distractions. They haven’t got time for brands and complicated messages.

David Frymann
Creativebrief: What do you think’s unique about The Beyond Collective?
David Frymann: It feels very modern to have a collection of specialists who are all individually brilliant in their areas. With network agencies, sometimes you’re forced to use the media or the experiential partner and it’s like, we’re part of the same group but are they really the best partner for this job? We want to make sure we’re working with the best people to solve the client’s problem. I can work by myself individually or I can partner with any one of The Beyond Collective. I get to work with an individual specialist in creative, media or production, in-house, under one roof, all together so it’s fantastic. These little conversations can happen on a day in day out basis as opposed to the normal world where you see a media agency probably even less than you see the client.
Creativebrief: Is there a particular piece of recent work from The Beyond Collective that’s stood out to you?
David Frymann: I really like the Pilgrims Choice Cheese Dreams campaign, in lots of ways. It’s one of those ideas that everyone would be a bit jealous of because, everyone knows cheese makes you dream so why hasn’t anyone used that before? It’s an example of everyone working together in The Beyond Collective, particularly media and creative working hand in hand.
Creativebrief: What about industry wide, is there a particular piece of work you’ve liked that you’ve seen in the last year?
David Frymann: The one that leapt out from the Cannes awards was the Budweiser Tagwords campaign. It’s so clever. It’s well branded. If you saw it as a piece of advertising, you’d go that looks like a Budweiser ad. They didn’t have the money to buy and leverage all those amazing images that show Budweiser and the likes of Jimi Hendrix but associating themselves with all those moments was really clever. One thing I thought they should’ve done was it seemed like a great chance to re-establish the King of Beers because what a great proof point to associate yourself with the Rolling Stones, Jim Roberts etc. But apart from that I thought it was really smart because it was very modern and leveraged the media mix.
Creativebrief: Looking outside the UK, is there a particular agency that you think are doing really brilliant work?
David Frymann: Less agencies, more just taking note of brands. I travel a lot, so I get inspiration from shopping in Walmart in the States and seeing how things are there. Travel is the most inspiring thing as opposed to any particular agency or brand. Or just general consumer trends or clever ways of thinking. I’d heard of behavioural economics before but hadn’t really read a lot into it. But a certain project for Beagle Street came along where it was so clearly relevant because we needed to create a behaviour change. I like learning new stuff because in theory you’re meant to be the expert or teacher at this stage, but I get as much of a kick out of being a pupil, learning and then sharing those learnings.

I like learning new stuff because in theory you’re meant to be the expert or teacher at this stage, but I get as much of a kick out of being a pupil, learning and then sharing those learnings.

David Frymann
Creativebrief: How do you see the advertising space evolving over the next few years?
David Frymann: Agencies will adapt to the way the landscape changes. Certain things are going to affect that. One of them will be the demise of the high street. What’s going to happen in all those spaces when all those betting shops close? What’s going to happen when the likes of Debenhams and dare I say it M&S disappear? Those are big spaces to fill. If you escape outside London as we all should every now and again, the high street doesn’t look the same as it does on Oxford Street. The future relies on tapping into this “millennial” dream. All these brands that have this amazing story of a guy and girl in a garage making soup and then they went to various shops and markets and it took off. Millennials can’t get enough of that because it taps into this desire to be successful without going down a normal route. There’s something about this entrepreneurial spirit, this authenticity of brands and it’s in every category. Whether it’s Glossier, Frank Body, or even Ben & Jerry’s. I know it’s been bought out by Unilever but it’s still a very millennial brand in terms of its founder story. And all the big companies are scared of these brands with a more authentic, original story that taps into the millennial mindset. You’ve got to make sure you stay true to the original principles otherwise you’ll be found out. It’s hard for the big, old established brands, really hard.
Creativebrief: What’re your ambitions for The Beyond Collective?
David Frymann: For The Beyond Collective as a whole that we’re famous for navigating and helping to build brands in the age of the audience when people are ever more disengaged and more empowered than ever before. From a Frontier point of view, I’d like to be well known for simple and imaginative strategies. I’d love to be solving problems facing the NHS one day because it needs a simple set of strategies to overcome the problems that it’s got. No one’s actually ever spelt out, as far as I can tell, what are the five biggest strains on the NHS and what’s the plan of attack for each of those five?
Creativebrief: A trend that we’re focusing on at the moment is that consumers want to know more about the social, environmental and economic impact of brands. How do you talk to the brands you work with about that or how do you evaluate that in the brands you think you want to work with? How do you have those conversations?
David Frymann: Sometimes it’s absolutely the right thing to do and to play into, if you’ve got a real strength there so, if you’re fundamentally a force for good like Toms. Do you remember when 4x4s were the enemy about 10 years ago? Someone had put a picture of a Range Rover online and it said along its side, ‘Don’t worry I’ve planted a tree’. It’s back to that greenwashing point. It’s got to be authentic, it’s got to be true to your brand. You can’t just jump onto some issue without having a reason or a right to be there. Also, it’s almost becoming a hygiene factor that you’ve got to have some sense of moral purpose or a moral compass. So, it depends on the brand, on the objective, on the unmet need in the category. But I wouldn’t just do it for the sake of it. I do think it’s good when brands make quite sweeping, big decisions. I was impressed by M&S when it was the first supermarket to charge for carrier bags way before the government imposed the charge.
Creativebrief: Something that we’re always really interested in with BITE is where you take your inspiration from outside the industry.
David Frymann: I like getting the chance to see things from a different perspective so travel’s great. I went to the World War II museum in Gdansk the other day on holiday, as you do, and it was fascinating to see World War II through the eyes of the Polish, to see it through the lens of the people who went through it. So, whether that’s shopping in Walmart or going to a World War II museum in Poland or looking at things through the lens of behavioural economics, getting fresh perspective somehow. If you can find the time.

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