This article first appeared in Campaign Brief.
When Sarah Cook and Luke Kellett took over Newcastle-based creative agency Headjam twelve years ago, they were a pair of fresh-faced 22-year-olds, pioneering the use of digital media, applying their love of design, and experimenting with new ways of running an agency.
Jump to 2023 and, together with Mike Preston, the three are celebrating Headjam’s 20th anniversary as a multi-disciplinary, independently-owned creative studio operating on Awabakal land, Newcastle.
Over the years, Headjam has flourished, despite two financial crises, a pandemic and the digital revolution. The three owners put their success down to two things: their resolute commitment to the sectors they service and their focus on creative impact over profits.
During this time, they’ve focused on working with the community, education, health and arts sectors, contributing to the local economy through projects with organisations like Awabakal medical service provider, ACON and Greenpeace, to name a few.
Headjam’s uniqueness is in its success at creating world-class social impact work – from a regional city in Australia.
Asked to describe Headjam, Sarah Cook, Chief Creative Officer, says:
We are an eclectic bunch of creatives driven by the idea that our work can have a positive impact.
Proof of this are the two recent Good Design Awards in the categories of Social Impact and Digital Design Web Design and Development. Over the years Headjam has been recognised with numerous national and international accolades and awards.
Headjam’s focus on positive social impact over profits is shared by Headjam’s Executive Creative Director, Mike Preston, whose career in creative agencies spans over 50 years.
Says Preston: "A principle is only a principle if it costs you money."
The Newcastle-based agency has no plans to go anywhere. Luke Kellett, Headjam’s Chief Operating Officer, firmly believes that "the long-held perception that a creative agency in a regional centre can’t reach a national or international standard is just not true. You can do great work from Newcastle, and that’s what we’re doing."