SAM STUCHBURY: CHANGE IN MOTION
August 23, 2018
Photos: Motion Sickness
Sam Stuchbury founded award-winning social, content and creative agency Motion Sickness while still at university. Five years on, he’s just been named in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list, a testament to his ‘burning desire of youth to reinvent the world’. We caught up with the entrepreneurial Kiwi to talk about disruptive media, resetting in nature and his recent collaborations with Icebreaker.
Definitely humbling - to be recognized on the global stage. Definitely unexpected – there were all these people on the list, like a top K-pop band from Korea, and I thought, how am I going to compete with these people? By the sounds of it, they liked that we were disrupting the industry.You position Motion Sickness as a social and digital media agency – what is it that sets you apart?
It’s developed over the years, finding our niche. We want to focus on doing amazing content and producing creative campaigns. Whether that’s high-end TV commercials or doing campaigns that are executed through social media and digital – that’s really what we want to be specializing in. Some agencies try and do too many things and aren’t really good at one thing. It’s about specializing, not generalizing.
“Nature is about having space; having time to think. That’s something I can’t get anywhere else.”
It’s levelled the playing field. Traditional marketing, TVCs and print still have their place. But these challenger brands and direct-to-consumer brands are coming out of nowhere and they’re young and they don’t have a huge amount of money, but they know how to use social media. You can beat the big boys on these platforms. It’s the new school of advertising. It’s understanding how people interact with brands now, communicating to people without the bullsh*t and creating content that they actually want to engage with.What key lesson have you learnt in business so far?
The biggest thing when you’re growing a business is that yes, money does come into it, but you also just need to do stuff you enjoy and do work you know you’re going to be proud of. A big thing for us right now is that we’re super busy, but we’re making sure we’re picking the brands we know are a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for them.
“It’s the new school of advertising. It’s understanding how people interact with brands now, communicating to people without the bullsh*t and creating content that they actually want to engage with.”
One of our first pieces of work was the profile on Riley [Elliott], which we were really stoked with. And we’ve just come off a campaign shoot, which was amazing. Probably one of the hardest shoots we’ve done in terms of being out in the elements and the amount of gear needed. We’re just excited to be a part of Icebreaker’s journey and see where it goes.How is it working with your partner, Hilary Ngan Kee?
People always ask, ‘Is it hard to live and work together?’ but it works because out of anyone in my life, she’s the person whose opinion I value the most. We spend so much time working, we may as well be with people that we want to spend time with. We’re really lucky that we enjoy what we do but it definitely becomes a lifestyle. We try not to talk about work all the time, though.What business motto do you live by?
Do what feels good. People ask us if we had a business plan. The truth is, we just did what felt right. Believe in your instincts, do what feels right and stick to that. The whole start-up and entrepreneurial game at the moment - people are so wrapped up in business plans and doing rounds of funding. It’s like, just give it a go: build a business and see if it works and is profitable and then you’ll have money to grow that business. Funding has its place but I think people can get too caught up in it.
“Do what feels good. People ask us if we had a business plan. The truth is, we just did what felt right. Believe in your instincts, do what feels right and stick to that.”
I go out in nature – that’s what I’ve always enjoyed doing. For myself and Hilary, when we’re busy or just run-down, we go away in my roof-tent or we go away camping for three or four days with no cellphone and no internet, and that mentally resets us. Actually, when you’re driving or away camping, that’s when the big ideas spring up. We always say this line from [Mad Men’s] Don Draper: ‘Just think about it, deeply. And then forget it. And an idea will jump up in your face.’How often do you get away?
Over summer, we usually take three or four weeks to reset. But every month, we’re getting away somewhere, even if it’s local, like Northland or East Coast. I find if I go for a month or two just in the city, I go a bit mad.You created the Hideaways book. Tell us about that.
We did some work with Random House Publishing, and then they approached us to do our own book. Hideaways tied into that idea of escaping to reset – it forced us to get away. We had a year to photograph 25 hideaways, so it was a good excuse to get out of the city and go around the country. It was a lot of work but it was an amazing experience.What does nature mean to you?
Nature is about having space; having time to think. That’s something I can’t get anywhere else.