Published by Retail World, March 2019

Cameron Swan, Group Managing Director, Active International talks about the company’s recent transformation and how the business is expanding its commercial capabilities to help clients achieve more.  

Active has recently received a brand facelift. What is the reason behind Active’s new look?

It certainly is more than just a shiny new logo. As a business our commitment to innovation across all our functions is what defines us.  As an independent business our focus is 100% on our clients & partners so we deliver on their expectations.

However, that’s no longer enough. There is no more ‘business as usual’. On the contrary business is changing at a rapid pace; this change is driven by technology and consumer behaviour causing business models to be challenged. Disrupting new businesses such as Amazon have changed the retail industry forever. Countless startups and the so-called ‘unicorns’ (companies that achieve high valuations overnight) have come along and challenged the way we do business causing disruption. Their impact is profound.

With disruption being the new ‘normal’, competition has never been tougher and it is clear that no matter what industry you are in, if we continue to operate ‘business as usual’ we are all facing the same threat of displacement in this market.

Interestingly it is not about the survival of the fittest. What actually Charles Darwin said was “it is not the survival of the fittest, it’s not the strongest. It is the “most adaptable to change” who will survive.

Active’s facelift represents our business transformation, it celebrates our ability and focus to be commercially agile and adaptable to change.


Can you explain what you mean by commercial agility and what is the answer to disruption?

Commercial agility means anticipating what’s next. We call it What’s Next Economy – a volatile, shape-shifting business environment fuelled by exhilarating change, technology and consumer behaviour. Boundaries are disappearing, competition can come from any angle, any form and we all need to be ready for it.

Active has the tools to assist brands achieve more in this What’s Next Economy. For example, we see consumers constantly being bombarded with doomsday economic predictions, which impacts their spending consciously and subconsciously. We like to believe we can help marketers extract more value out of their media spend so this is where we will focus our attention- helping brands achieve more in a challenging economic environment. If you can improve your ROI on a media spend then you are certainly more likely to maintain or grow that spend.

Even though we are often seen as a complex business to define, our focus remains on delivering new levels of financial flexibility and custom solutions to help brands build value, take on disruption and achieve more.


Active this year acquired Paykel Media agency. In a changing media landscape why would a corporate trade company acquire an agency?

It is a very exciting step for us as a business towards building out our capabilities, product and services even further. Our aim is to accelerate our business solutions and increase the value we offer to clients and partners. We are two independent businesses with complementing propositions, culturally aligned, and cultivating the same vision for our clients and partners.

Our clients can now benefit from our multiple business solutions while having access to an array of media services and expertise from an independent agency and thrive in today’s changing and challenging landscape.


This month you are celebrating 10 years at Active which, apart from being impressive, is also becoming less common in todays workforce why has kept you at Active?

It has been a very fast ten years which I think is a good sign. A lot has changed in the last decade which really has been a driving force for me to stay. From when I joined to today I think so many aspects of our business have naturally evolved, so many of our capabilities have expanded and our business offerings are today the most bespoke and highly competitive. All these factors make for a fast-paced dynamic environment and that is something I love.

I am in good company too. It is common trend for executives at Active to have long tenure. Our CEO of the international division has been with the company over 16 years as too has our global CFO. Supporting good, hardworking talent is something we can all be proud of, after all it’s our team that are our greatest asset and proof to our success.