Robbie Brammall is responsible for ‘making mischief and money’ for more than forty creatively driven brands at Mona, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art. In the short Q&A below, he gives us some insights into his keynote at this Wednesday’s AWARD Twilight Talks event in Melbourne, the best advice he’s received from Mona owner and iconoclastic art collector David Walsh, why his job involves making dildos, and more.
Tell us a bit about the asymmetric upside of risk – the theme of your keynote at this Wednesday’s Twilight Talks event in Melbourne.
Mona’s owner David Walsh is a mathematician. And what he’s worked out is that luck is the biggest determinant of business success – talent has nothing to do with it. So he plays the numbers – when he invests he takes 10 calculated business risks, all with a huge potential upside and a small downside. When one of those risks lands he makes more money than 10 conservative business decisions combined – asymmetric upside. So, I’ve just turned that idea against him, and have used it to justify Mona’s marketing strategy. That’s where the dildos come in.
What’s the best advice David (Walsh) has ever given you?
I was in a board meeting with David the other day and he goes to everyone: “Want to know how to be a millionaire?” And we’re all playing it cool, but in reality, concentrating like our lives depend on it. And then he just lays it out – this very simple ten-point plan about how to become ridiculously wealthy. And he finishes and goes: “And that’s all you have to do.” It was fantastic advice. Priceless. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what was on the plan, so maybe that’s my point – I’ve heard and not understood more things every month at Mona than the rest of my career put together. Another piece of great advice from David was ‘don’t pander to the audience’.
Biggest difference moving from agency side to client-side?
When I arrived at Mona, the business didn’t know what a deck was. Had never heard of it, never seen one, didn’t know why I was using the word. So I’m presenting something that I wanted to do, and was stepping it out agency style, and they thought it was some sort of witchcraft. They loved it, thought I was the David Bowie of marketing, because explaining what you wanted to do at Mona (and getting approval to do it) was not a thing. Doing the thing was the thing. And that’s the story of how I first started to ruin the culture at Mona.
What does Mona do that no other business does?
The team prioritises trying lots of new things, purely so we can learn from failure.
Biggest difference between client-side and agency side?
The satisfaction when something cool works. And by works, I mean makes money.
Most valuable part of your talk on Wednesday?
The client-friendly bit where I use maths to justify increased creativity in marketing.
Anything else we can expect?
There’s not that much dildo talk in all honesty, but towards the end there’s some quite unsavoury stuff that I should probably take out. We’ll see what the vibe is like on the night.
To book your place at this Wednesday’s AWARD Twilight Talks event in Melbourne featuring Robbie, click here.