The crack of leather on willow is not a sound you might expect in Chicago. But on any given weekend, and with a bit of hunting, youâ€™ll find the most English of summer pastimes played in leisurely fashion at local parks.
Our Chicago based teamÂ established the PGH Fender XI three years ago after recruiting a number of Aussies and Poms to make up the numbers â€“ and we havenâ€™t looked back.
In many ways the PGH Fender XI is a metaphor for the uniqueness Americans see in New Zealanders. We approach things with a fresh point of view which is attractive to many Americans, we are not from Europe, yet we are English speaking, our sports are new, our accents are unexpected and our outlook is positive; these â€˜quirksâ€™ open a lot of doors.
The Fenders cricket team has also become a useful business tool. Weâ€™ve have recruited staff through the Fenders cricket team, it is a great way to dig out any Kiwis hiding in the vast Chicago suburbs, and made many contacts with people in senior positions in Chicago business â€“ many of them Americans who â€œjust came down for a lookâ€�.
Our Australia players tend to have executive level positions in the city which have proven useful for growing our business network. The Fenders playing shirt is also â€˜hotâ€™ merchandising item in Chicago, at recent business function we presented the Head of Sales for ESPN with a replica cricket shirt. He loved it so much he wore it all night. In fact he might still be wearing it.
In these global times the unique culture, thinking and attitudes (and seemingly now even sports) are increasingly sought-after by American business. New Zealand is the unexpected new kid on the global block, everyone understands that Asia and â€˜New Europeâ€™ is now cemented in the business consciousness, but we were a global-googly.
As such our offering is a delight to businesses wary and weary of working with the developing world.
In our experience thereâ€™s never been a better chance for New Zealand â€˜commercial creativeâ€™ companies to gain a foothold in America than now.
In the last five years large American companies have begun outsourcing creative work to smaller niche agencies like never before. This has had a profound impact on the growth of specialist smaller agencies, who are seen by many to have less vested interest, greater mobility and creativity than traditional full-service agencies.
TimeZoneOne recently successfully presented surf and snow board marketing ideas to Budweiser. Bud may be a massive company but they use a network of smaller agencies to provide them with original and nimble thinking.
The opportunity is great for New Zealand commercial creative companies.
Before setting up in Chicago we established TimeZoneOne in London. This was hard work, business by internet was new, the time zones were tough and the English found it hard to believe that Kiwi creativity was of the highest quality (this was pre Lord of the Rings). It did however prove that the business idea worked.
Several years later we opted for the US, where the company was viewed with much more interest, intrigue and respect than in the UK. Iâ€™ve never had to convince American clients as to the quality of our work â€“ itâ€™s just assumed because weâ€™re Kiwis, they have a built in belief that NZ = Best.
We employ a business model that takes advantage of the difference in time zones between the US and New Zealand.
The Chicago office acts as the â€˜front doorâ€™ and is primarily used for sales and client management. While the US sleeps, creative work rolls out of our Christchurch offices, ready for presentation to clients the next US day. This allows our business to become, in essence, a â€œ24 hourâ€� operation.
This speed of delivery is perhaps are most valued offering to market. Every business wants stuff fast, and creative and marketing is no different. Our 24 hour business model is something that our competitors can not offer. Indeed many of the large agencies are trying to set up 24 hour production facilities in the US, but are finding it impossible to get the graphic designers willing to work at 3am.
Setting up in America may seem a daunting prospect; and it is. But once you find you feet and accept that you donâ€™t recognise anything in the supermarket, you will find that business is better in the US. The Americans love business, they appreciate sales and they want to find new and better ways.
Operationally there is little difference between sending work in electronic format 300km or 13,000km. Negotiating time zones has also provided little hindrance to business – time zones are a natural part of pan-American business, with meetings routinely structured around East Coast / West Coast time differences.
Technology is also enhancing our inter-office communications. Adopting video conferencing, teleconferencing, an ftp site to transfer large files and email has made maintaining inter-office and client relationships simple. It also makes for a very sustainable business.
This â€œ24 hour modelâ€� is one that many other New Zealand businesses can employ, and sell, as a point of difference overseas. If theyâ€™re like TimeZoneOne, they can also talk about â€œfresh creative, faster and with a fairer billâ€�.
Americans are increasingly liking the taste of Kiwi. Last Christmas, we took this taste to the Americans literally, having a local Christchurch micro-brewery brew a batch of â€œCaptain Cooks Spruce Beerâ€� for clients.
Not surprisingly, they loved it. Or so they said.