6 minutes read
From humble beginnings in 2017, working from the bottom of Vulture St in Brisbane’s vibrant West End, Aruga has flourished.
Sure, we’re still here, kicking back on Vulture St, but now we’re on level 2 with a team of creative legends, strategic superstars and account aces sharing our sweet penthouse digs.
We’ve delivered more than 200 unique projects for a dazzling array of clients and friends including big-name brands, local legends and small challengers.
With plates of fairy bread in one hand, glasses of prosecco in the other and party hats at a jaunty angle, we played 10 Questions with Aruga Co-Founders Donna Kramer and Adam Brunes (aka Mum and Dad) for the lowdown, LOLs and lessons learnt over the past four years.
1. WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION FOR STARTING ARUGA IN 2017?
DK: We wanted to work with creative, kind and talented people to develop campaigns for brands, business and causes we believed in.
AB: Freedom was the biggest motivator for me – the opportunity to choose what we worked on, where we invested time and energy and who we wanted to surround ourselves with. Going out on our own provided us with an opportunity to build our version of a great workplace and culture from the ground up.
2. AFTER 4 YEARS, DOES THAT MOTIVATION STILL DRIVE YOU?
DK: Yes, if we don’t have a passion for the project, or if we don’t wholeheartedly believe we’re the best team for the task at hand, we won’t take it on.
AB: Absolutely. Our biggest motivator remains working with people we like on businesses we passionately believe it. It’s a wonderful position to be in!
3. WHAT’S THE ONE ‘ARUGA’ STORY YOU ALWAYS TELL AT BBQs TO GET A LAUGH?
DK: Honestly, I don’t talk about work at BBQs!
AB: Definitely the time we said yes to throwing the 10th anniversary celebration for a well-known gentlemen’s club. It was a lot of fun and the comedy moments came thick and fast. We had an hour-long WIP on whether or not the macarons should have sprinkles and after much debate, we politely reminded the client that the guests probably weren’t coming for the macarons. The call of the night came from a famous food critic who observed that the pole hadn’t been wiped down all evening. You wouldn’t get away with that in 2021!
4. YOU’VE GONE FROM A TEAM OF 2 TO A TEAM OF 22 (AND GROWING), WHEN DID YOU REALISE YOU’D REACHED THAT ‘TIPPING POINT’ FROM START-UP TO SERIOUS VENTURE?
DK: I don’t think we are there yet. Our business is in a constant state of evolution. This year we’ve launched an employee wellness program, the Aruga Guide to Media Training, the Rumbletown Pathways Scholarship and re-launched our passion project, IMHO. All of these initiatives are in the first stages of start-up and require a huge amount of focus alongside our foundation business of a communications agency. I think if we ever feel “we’ve made it” we are not challenging ourselves to be creative.
AB: We’ve never really been motivated to achieve scale, it’s something that’s happened very naturally.
5. WHAT, FROM THOSE EARLY DAYS AND MONTHS OF ARUGA, DO YOU CONSCIOUSLY TRY TO RETAIN TODAY?
DK: Personal relationships. I prioritise time with our team in the hope they will feel valued and know that their hard work and dedication to our clients is acknowledged and appreciated.
AB: Genuine investment in our clients and their businesses. It about demonstrating interest and engagement, participating, attending their events and milestones and celebrating their wins.
6. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE WITNESSED IN THE PAST 4 YEARS?
DK: The biggest change is change itself. Every single element of our business is continually evolving. We constantly seek out change by adding services, improving operational efficiencies, trialling new businesses as client partners and embracing new technology. Juggling the evolution is a challenge but we truly feel energised by it.
7. CONVERSELY, WHAT HAS REMAINED EXACTLY THE SAME IN THOSE YEARS?
DK: Our commitment to working with people we respect which includes our business partners in Australia and New Zealand, our clients and suppliers and ensuring our team is the jewel in our crown, always.
8. WHAT INDUSTRY TRENDS OVER THE PAST 4 YEARS HAVE YOU LOVED AND LOATHED?
• The deep integration of content creation with PR, it’s one and the same.
• The shift in seeking out diversity in all facets of the industry
• The realisation that you can work from anywhere. Pre-COVID we lost pitches because we were not Sydney-based; that’s not a concern now.
• The traditional pitch process where you receive a document with a brief then return a proposal without human interaction. We value relationships and prefer to meet clients, spend time learning about their business, touring their office, meeting their dogs, chatting about their needs and workshopping ways we can help them reach their goals. It’s more of an investment in time but when we do this, everyone wins.
9. IF ARUGA WAS A 4-YEAR-OLD, WHAT WOULD THE TEACHER WRITE ON ITS REPORT CARD?
• Loves to chat and distract others so we’ve moved them to the front row.
• Fierce and vocal protector of those in the classroom who are not as confident coming forward with an issue.
• Leaves work to the last-minute but gosh it’s entertaining to read or watch once completed.
• A committed class social coordinator.
• Nails oral presentations.
• Plays well with others.
• Definitely here for the social side of things more so than the learning.
• A very snappy dresser but please remember that sequins aren’t appropriate for ANZAC Day.
• A fierce advocate for justice and social change.
• Will likely wind up as Prime Minister or working with the UN.
10. GAZING INTO YOUR CRYSTAL BALLS, WHAT 4 PREDICTIONS CAN YOU MAKE FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS?
1. We’ll have a diverse team across age, cultural background and gender who are equipped to work anywhere.
2. We’ll be a content agency that has industry leaders managing various departments.
3. We’ll have a suite of communications products available for instant purchase.
4. We’ll be committed to long-term charity and cause-related partners.