Talking Digital Q&A #4: Dave King, Co-Founder The Royals


“Complacency is poison” says Dave King, co-founder of Melbourne based collective The Royals. King, alongside Steve O’Farrell, Nick Cummins and Andrew Siwka moved into new Richmond offices this year and have done some great projects for Mossimo, Miss Chu and Teach for Australia.

The founders come from strong pedigree – having worked in senior roles at Telstra, DDB, Sputnik, The Furnace and JWT. They aim to make intellectual property for adventurous brands and themselves and are a group to watch.

I spoke to Dave King  (far right) about the company, their vision and their goals.

Talking Digital: Explain what The Royals is and what it aims to do?

Dave King: The Royals is a creative company that delivers modern communication services, makes things and constructs intellectual property for clients and for ourselves. We are inspired by the unlimited potential of disruptive creativity. For us, this is about recognising some really interesting changes going on around us and helping clients captialise on them. We want to create a place that is interested and interesting.

TD: The key core team at the Royals come with some significant experience – much of it at larger, public (or part of public) companies. What led to the core team of The Royals coming together and what does it offer you that working in larger organisations didn’t?

DK: The partners have all worked with each other in the past at agencies and/or collaborated on projects. Late last year we all founds ourselves incredibly invigorated by the opportunity to create a distinctive, different agency. There are plenty of really good digital agencies around, and of course this country has a few top, ‘big ad’ type companies too. But it’s very rare to find a deep understanding of, and passion for, digital at the highest level of creative agencies here. We want to bring that knowledge to the initial conversations and briefings and help formulate strategy. The internet is not an advertising medium – it has ads – but it’s much better at other stuff. Companies should get what their options are.

We believe that within a few years, the companies that help CEOs and CMOs with the whole internet and mobile thing will be their most trusted creative advisors.

As far as skills, we complement each other really in various aspects of creative, innovation, strategy and operations. The challenge with having a lot of experience is recognising when you need to throw it out and learn new ways of doing things – and when you take advantage of it.

TD: What do you feel are the key challenges that get in the way of great creative ideas?

DK: Informational noise. Lack of focus. Broken coffee machines. It’s tempting to say budget too, but of course budget is a necessary creative constraint. It can be disheartening to able to see what’s possible but not be able to afford it. But for us, this presents a further interesting creative challenge: getting ideas into the world that don’t rely strictly on client budgets. This turns us to alternative funding models and ways of productising things in ways that are probably a little new to agencies. It’s tempting to have lots of excuses about why we aren’t creative enough, but in the end, they’re just that. If you just spend five minutes looking around, there are people all over the place overcoming these challenges.

I think the other main challenge is the abundance of opportunity. Bruce Mau poses this question to his clients: “Now that you can do anything, what will you do?”. It can be difficult to settle on one territory and strategic direction when you’ve allowed yourself to consider to look really wide as to what the solution might be. Far from looking solely at ads, we like to tool for things that people want us to make. This could be a product or a service improvement or a completely new form of engagement. But this is what we’re in it for: to creatively disrupt, even in a small way. And that doesn’t always come from ad formats.

TD:What are the key values of The Royals and how are these demonstrated beyond just being a value statement? How do you nurture an environment that balances innovation, fun and commercial realities?

DK: Our values are:
– Audacity : bold, questioning, optimistic approach to our work.
– Camaraderie : we’re on each other’s side. Part of the attraction to the name “The Royals” is that it serves both plural and a singular unit at once. You know.. champion team, team of champions combo..
– Revelry : truly revel in turning up and have fun on your own terms. This could be about the way you go about working up creative or product ideas or about exploration and curiosity or about drinking and playing ping pong.

For our innovation pathway, we also have a ‘slogan’ that is borrowed from somewhere on the net which is ‘the future belongs to the curious’. For me this also picks up on the William Wordsworth line ‘mind forever voyaging’ (later, an excellent Infocom adventure game). This is about the notion that you’ve never go things worked out. Regardless of how much experience you have in any given field, thinking that that’s enough is a mistake. Complacency is poison.

TD: Which companies and individuals – locally and internationally – are demonstrating amazing creativity and innovation in your opinion?

This is my personal list, i expect the other Royals have a very different list..

Matt Jones at BERG
Sid Lee (for their collective and boot camps)
Dan Hill
Breakfast NY
Karsten Schmidt (Toxi)
Made By Many
Mr. Doob
HUGE
Lego
ThatGameCompany

Also, Nick (our creative director) and Pan (our head of tech), constantly invigorate me, and others around them.

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One response to “Talking Digital Q&A #4: Dave King, Co-Founder The Royals

  1. I wish more digital agencies could clearly define what they do like David has done there.

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