Staff Reporters
Aug 18, 2020

Women to Watch 2020: Anna Gunnell, VMLY&R Wellington

Over the past decade, she has worked across categories ranging from FMCG to insurance in NZ, Australia and the UK and won over 18 marketing and effectiveness awards.

Women to Watch 2020: Anna Gunnell, VMLY&R Wellington
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Anna Gunnell

Head of planning
VMLY&R Wellington
New Zealand

As a member of VMLY&R Wellington’s senior leadership team responsible for the strategic direction of  the shop’s client, the government-owned Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), Anna Gunnell has had to find new and innovative ways for the entity to step beyond its risk-averse approach. In a testament to her capabilities, her team within six months drove an increase of up to 30% in key measures among historically hard-to-reach audiences. Most recently Gunnell led the VMLY&R team to to develop the business case for a two-year contract worth $7 million that will begin in 2020.

These plaudits are a reaffirmation of Gunnell’s capabilities in the planning sphere. Over the past decade, she has worked across categories ranging from FMCG to insurance in NZ, Australia and the UK and won over 18 marketing and effectiveness awards.Other career highlights include developing a business strategy for the Australasian McDonald’s business that was implemented by McDonald’s globally. 

In 2018, Gunnell moved from sales for commercial clients to New Zealand’s capital city Wellington to join Assignment as the head of planning and was part of the leadership team that helped navigate its successful merger with VMLY&R. A year along, she has leaned on driving an evidence-based approach, ‘The truth will make you brave’, which has helped grow VMLY&R’s government clients into its largest customers. 

VMLY&R Wellington has achieved 23% revenue growth this year, and Gunnell has been instrumental in securing 18% of this through her leading role on new business pitches and growing existing clients.

Gunnell has developed and trialled new methodologies such as VMLY&R Connection Kōrero, a tool that helps ensures the agency takes an equitable approach and uncoversemotional and cultural connections to inspire authentic and fresh work. She also champions the agency spirit of he waka eka noa (‘we’re all in the same canoe’) to signify all stakeholders need to be on the journey to build a successful agency. 

However, Gunnell isn’t just winning new business and extending existing contracts at any cost. For example, the audiences for many government projects are culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) or Māori people, and catering to them puts an emphasis on an equitable approach to designing these pitches and winning such contracts. 

The combination of evidence and utilising the cultural perspective as the foundation for this work was pivotal to developing an unapologetic campaign for cervical screening. The campaign used creativity, sass and a 14m vagina tunnel to help normalise this typically taboo topic. This came in the form of an “unforgettable dancing cervix”, which made Prime-time television in New Zealand.

 
SEE ALL OF THE 2020 WOMEN TO WATCH
Exceptional female talent from the APAC marcomms industry 

 

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