Special opens in LA

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AUCKLAND, Today: Transtasman agency Special Group has entered into the US market with William Gelner leading the LA-based agency as chief creative officer, and Uber Eats as its founding client. 

Gelner has led the creative product and teams at BBH NY, 180LA and most recently, Engine. He has worked with Unicef, Adidas, HBO, HP, Jagermeister, Boost Mobile, University of Phoenix, Expedia, and on Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign. 

He is currently working with The Lincoln Project and the League of Conservative Voters and is responsible for their recent high-profile political campaign. 

Gelner, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to partner with Special Group and launch the US agency.

“Besides being genuinely the kindest and bravest humans I’ve ever met in the industry, they have built a model around what brands want and need right now. The time is right for a self-backed, nimble and world class creative agency with a global footprint.” 

Special Group founder/CEO/CCO Tony Bradbourne said: “It is an incredibly proud moment to see the business we started in an old cinema in Auckland 13 years ago open its fourth office, this time half-way across the globe.

“The time is right for a self-backed, nimble and world class creative agency with a global footprint.”

“Our unique business offering that spans purpose-led design, strategy, digital, mobile, advertising and innovation has delivered a hugely successful year both as a business and for creativity, and we can’t wait to see this next chapter unfold under the brilliance and talent of William.

“We’ve got a long history of producing work that turns advertising on its head. And now we believe we’ve built a global group that can turn the industry the same way – a new global independent creative group for the world’s most ambitious clients.

“We were lucky enough to host William down in New Zealand, and then Australia, before Covid-19 appeared. So he spent a lot of time with the teams and a lot of time talking about what we collectively believe in – in terms of work, culture, values – and our shared ambition.”

Michael Redwood said: “We had been thinking about the USA market for years. I was born and raised in Illinois, so I’ve always thought opening Special in America would be fun. And we’ve spent a lot of time in LA over the years with clients and producing work. Frankly we love it.”

Founder,/executive design director Heath Lowe said: “The launch of the LA office follows the profound success of Special Group’s global work for Uber Eats, including its launch of the globally recognised Tonight I’ll Be Eating brand platform into the US and Canada.

“The now viral campaign launched with an epic showdown between two movie icons, Mark Hamill and Patrick Stewart.

“Following this, Uber Eats and Special Group featured the next iteration of unlikely duo’s just last week, starring gymnastics fan boy and Queer-Eye star Jonathan Van Ness and Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles.

Special Australia founding partner/ceo Lindsey Evans said: “It is a massive privilege to have been entrusted by Uber Eats to launch Tonight I’ll be Eating into the US and we are blessed to do so with William. William is a unicorn – ridiculously talented with furiously high standards as well as being a stupidly good human being.”

Special Group, which was founded in New Zealand in 2007, opened Sydney in 2014, followed by Melbourne in 2020.

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