Ben Lilley

Creative Chairman

McCann Worldgroup

A Psychology and Economics Major, Ben’s career began in the creative departments of some of Australia’s most respected ad agencies, including George Patterson, McCann Erickson and DDB Needham. He received numerous local and international awards for his creative work before launching full-service creative agency SMART in 2000.

Establishing offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland and Auckland, SMART was acclaimed for its creative work for brands including adidas, ANZ Bank, Coca Cola, Dulux, Ferrero, Levi’s, McDonald’s, News Limited, SEEK, Specsavers, Unilever and Vodafone. Named by AdNews as “one of the best known independent advertising success stories in Australia”, the agency was recognised in the AdNews and B&T Agency of the Year, Cannes, Effies, Clios, New York Festivals and numerous other global award shows, and as a B&T Agency Employer of the Year and a BRW Fast100 company.

In 2011, SMART was acquired by McCann Worldgroup, with Ben appointed Australian Chairman & CEO. McCann Australia went on to be named the world’s most awarded creative agency and Australia’s most effective agency, achieving global acclaim most notably for its “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign for Metro Trains, the most awarded campaign in advertising history. McCann Australia was also named Agency of the Year by D&AD, Campaign Brief and Mumbrella, and One Show Best of Show and AdNews Campaign of the Year among other accolades. In 2016, Ben was named McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific Creative Leadership Chair, overseeing creative excellence and setting new McCann creative and effectiveness records for APAC markets including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

In 2020, Ben returned to McCann Australia as both its Creative Chairman and new owner, after acquiring the national operation from IPG. A regular media commentator, Ben has featured in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and as one of AdNews’ Top Forty Under Forty advertising professionals.

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