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Hires, Wins & Business

Special Group Opens Fourth Office in Los Angeles

Special Group becomes New Zealand's first ever international creative network

Special Group Opens Fourth Office in Los Angeles

- Above: L-R // Tony Bradbourne, William Gelner and Lindsey Evans

Asia Pacific’s leading independent creative company Special Group has entered into the U.S market with William Gelner leading the LA-based agency as chief creative officer, and Uber Eats as its founding client.

Cade Heyde, founding partner and managing director, Tom Martin and Julian Schreiber, partners and chief creative officers, Special Group Australia, have been working with William over the last few months to cement the agency's presence on the ground.

William, one of the most respected and highly acclaimed creative leaders in the U.S has led the creative product and teams at BBH NY, 180LA and most recently, Engine. He has worked with premier brands including UNICEF, adidas, HBO, HP, Jagermeister, Boost Mobile, The University of Phoenix, Expedia as well as Mike Bloomberg's 2020 campaign.

He is currently working with The Lincoln Project and the League of Conservative Voters and is responsible for their recent high-profile political campaign.

On being the founding partner of the US business, William Gelner, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to partner with Special Group and launch the US agency. Besides being genuinely the kindest and bravest humans I’ve ever met in the industry, they have built a model around what brands want and need right now. The time is right for a self-backed, nimble and world class creative agency with a global footprint.”

Founder of Special Group, CEO/CCO New Zealand, Tony Bradbourne, added: “It is an incredibly proud moment to see the business we started in an old cinema in Auckland 13 years ago open its fourth office, this time half-way across the globe. Our unique business offering that spans purpose-led design, strategy, digital, mobile, advertising and innovation has delivered a hugely successful year both as a business and for creativity, and we can’t wait to see this next chapter unfold under the brilliance and talent of William. We’ve got a long history of producing work that turns advertising on its head. And now we believe we’ve built a global group that can turn the industry the same way. A new global independent creative group for the world’s most ambitious clients."

Michael Redwood, managing partner, Special Group, commented: “We were lucky enough to host William down in New Zealand, and then Australia, before Covid-19 appeared. So he spent a lot of time with the teams and a lot of time talking about what we collectively believe in - in terms of work, culture, values – and our shared ambition.”

Heath Lowe, founder, executive design director, Special Group, said: “We had been thinking about the USA market for years. I was born and raised in Illinois, so I’ve always thought opening Special in America office would be fun. And we’ve spent a lot of time in L.A. over the years with clients and producing work. Frankly we love it.”


The launch of the international office follows the profound success of Special Group’s global work for Uber Eats, including its launch of the globally recognised ‘Tonight I’ll Be Eating' brand platform into the U.S and Canada. The now viral campaign launched with an epic showdown between two movie icons, Mark Hamill and Patrick Stewart. Following this, Uber Eats and Special Group featured the next iteration of unlikely duo’s just last week, starring gymnastics fan boy and Queer-Eye star Jonathan Van Ness and Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles.

Lindsey Evans, founding partner and CEO, Special Group Australia, said: “It is a massive privilege to have been entrusted by Uber Eats to launch ‘Tonight I’ll be Eating’ into the US and we are blessed to do so with William. William is a unicorn - ridiculously talented with furiously high standards as well as being a stupidly good human being.”

Special Group, which was founded in New Zealand in 2007, opened Sydney in 2014, followed by Melbourne in 2020, and is the undisputed leading independent creative company across APAC. It has won accolades for innovation, creativity, design and effectiveness in every major award show internationally. Special was named by Campaign Asia as New Zealand ‘Creative Agency of the Year’, ‘Digital Agency of the Year’ and AUS/NZ ‘Independent Agency of the Year’. The creative company’s ‘Good Morning World’ campaign for Tourism New Zealand was recently named the most effective multi-region campaign in the world by the Global Effie Awards. As well as ‘Campaign of the Year’ by AdNews. Another first for a New Zealand company.

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