Staff Reporters
Nov 10, 2021

40 Under 40 2021: Chris Colter, Initiative

An ace planner, Colter has risen from media trainee to chief strategy officer in just a decade, and led the reinvention of a struggling agency.

40 Under 40 2021: Chris Colter, Initiative
Proven performers with plentiful potential in the APAC marcomms industry

Chris Colter

Chief strategy officer 

Away from work, Chris Colter is an enthusiastic race car driver. At work, though, he has put his speed and skill to great use rising from media trainee to chief strategy officer in just a decade. As a strategist, he believes that media planning has become homogenised and usurped by data and analytics at the expense of real-world insight, and his work is driven to improve those perceptions.

Colter has been ahead of the curve at every step of his career. From winning the IAA Big Idea competition while still at university, to bringing home gold at the Global Cannes Young Lions Competition, to winning over eight Cannes Lions (including a Titanium for Tourism Australia’s Dundee), he’s proven to be an outstanding talent. His work has been recognised outside of Australia too. He now sits on Initiative’s global product committee revolutionising the agency’s entire planning process across 85 markets and is also on a four-person team tasked with reinventing the agency’s planning product globally. For Initiative’s clients, his ace planning capabilities have come in handy for multiple campaigns including Lego Star, a partnership with Fire Rescue New South Wales, and the Lego Mario launch.

He also led the creation of Initiative HQ, a board-level culture and communications advisory that uses tools, technology and talent to solve major business challenges. In his first year, Colter led over 15 new projects, contributing over 35% of the agency’s revenue. The agency, which was struggling three years ago—it was outside of the top 10 across industry rankings and an awards lightweight—rose to become a top-rung player in 2021.

Outside of his day-to-day job, in a year where every other agency ceased internship programmes due to lockdowns, Colter led the creation of the industry’s first remote program, the Iso Internship. Instead of seeing the lockdown as a barrier to hosting interns, Initiative increased their intake three-fold.

Proven performers with plentiful potential in the APAC marcomms industry


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