Creative Billings can bring clients business

03/02/2004 - 21:00


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SOMETIMES the simple things work the best. Just ask MJB&B managing director Craig Billings.

SOMETIMES the simple things work the best. Just ask MJB&B managing director Craig Billings.

He’s the man responsible for creating some of the catchiest jingles played on radio and television.

“The only decision is Retravision”, “Just Come to City Farmers”, and “Enjo Enjo Enjo A Cleaning we will go” are all Mr Billings’ creations.

And while they may drive some of us to distraction, they also drive people to the product.

Well, that’s what Mr Billings says.

“If it’s simple and easy to remember with broad appeal, it’ll work,” he said.

While creatives may scoff at the simplicity of his brand of advertising, Mr Billings merely points to the growth each business has enjoyed since MJB&B took on their accounts.

“City Farmers had an identity crisis. Ten years ago it had four stores but people didn’t really know what they sold or if it was even open to the public.

“A lot of people thought it was wholesale. Now people know you can buy dog food, garden stuff, and pool chlorine.

“The jingle enables us, with a small budget, to build a brand identity and awareness.

“The current Retravision jingle has been going for about four years and I would suggest that there wouldn’t be anyone in WA that couldn’t tell you the jingle.”

The jingle for City Farmers was devised with a view for longevity and consistent air play.

Mr Billings started his advertising career as a sales executive with WA Newspapers before being poached by NAS Advertising.

From there he joined Berry Currie, before setting up his own advertising agency, Martin Billings, with Tom Martin.

“That was a fantastic decision. There were 426 advertising agencies in Perth and that’s just what we needed, another agency,” he said.

“But it was an exciting period because we were two guys that were hell bent on making a success in the industry.

“The first major client we won was Retravision.”

Martin Billings merged with Johnson Bowley and Blackely to form MJB& B (Michele Blackely opted out of the merger) on January 1, 1990.

“It was a tough time in the industry,” Mr Billings said.

“Major advertisers were starting to go east and you wanted to be in the top five [advertising firms] to survive.”

The agency not only survived but thrived and is ranked the third largest advertiser in billings in WA Business News’ 2004 Book of Lists.

 “One of our philosophies was to grow with our clients, such as Retravision,” Mr Billings said.

 “Most of our clients have been with us since 1990 or either agency before then.

“It’s about being proactive. We want to come up with ideas and take them to the client, not wait around for a brief.

“It’s an important part of the relationship to be a part of their business.

“Callum [McKenzie, client services director at MJB&B] spent a week in the QBE Insurance phone room to get to know the business.”

But it’s still a bitter pill to swallow when a client moves its advertising operation to the eastern States.

MJB&B lost one of its biggest accounts, Enjo, late last year, and 11 people lost their jobs.

Personally, it’s been the toughest period in Mr Billings’ career.

“It’s tough because we treat people like they are family, but it’s a fact of business,” he said.

“That’s the effect that this has.

It’s the first time I’ve had to let staff go.”.


“The jingle enables us to build a brand identity and awareness.”

-         Craig Billings


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