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Creative Karmarama The Monkeys

Advertising the British way: lessons from The Monkeys’ creative exchange with Karmarama


By Katie Deighton, Senior Reporter

November 13, 2018 | 4 min read

Earlier this year, Accenture Interactive agencies Karmarama and The Monkeys swapped a team of creatives in a modern-day exchange programme. The Sydney shop’s Amanda Alegre, Charlotte Marshall and Pierce Thomson tell us what they learned about the UK industry from a month in London.

The Monkeys Karmarama

A trio of Monkeys visit Karmarama's London office

With a bit of smooth talking, the UK Border Force finally believed that Karmarama and The Monkeys were legitimate business names and we were allowed onto British soil.

What did we learn in the first week of our exchange? To start, Karmarama is surprisingly difficult to spell, just like ‘bananas’ is at The Monkeys, except there’s no helpful Gwen Stefani song to help us remember it.

They have a sign in the Karmarama office that pretty much sums up what the agency is about – ‘work hard, be nice to people, play ping pong’. The staff are genuinely nice people who were incredibly friendly and welcoming. There were a few differences though...

  • The way to annoy your co-workers is by playing pool rather than ping pong
  • Afternoon tea is a far bigger deal than it is in Australia
  • The beer in the fridge costs money but it’s actually drinkable
  • They have a brightly lit coloured tunnel as the entrance to the agency. This seems cool at first, however the novelty wears off quickly if you find yourself meandering through it feeling worse for wear on a Friday morning…
  • Working lunches are a thing. They consist of calorific, yet hearty fare served up by a guy called Mal (affectionately and ironically known as ‘MalNutrition’)
  • They have a small hut where they’re growing their own chili peppers, presumably as an attempt to become the hottest agency in town

Overall the industries feel relatively similar: everyone is striving to do the best work they can. But in general, there are more ads in the UK. There are ads on buses, in buses, on trains, on platforms – even the bike share system is sponsored by a bank. There are also free papers in the morning and evening, which are funded by ads.

This means there’s a lot more work coming through in the industry mags. The absence of savage Campaign Brief comments makes it feel a bit more positive than the industry in Australia, however they do have a ‘Turkey of the Week’ section in Campaign [we’ll let that one slide, ed] for the worst ad in any given week.

Karmarama The Monkeys

Each week new starters at the agency are forced/requested to tell an embarrassing story from their past in front of the agency. They let us off for the first week, but we ended up spilling our secrets in the end and that’s all we’re going to say on the matter!

Of course, there were a few language differences that we discovered:

  • Going out in a pair of pants is very sensible in Australia, but inadvisable in the UK.
  • Router (the thing that connects you to the internet) is pronounced ‘root-er’ in the UK, which has a very different meaning back home...
  • “Sweating cobs” – ...we’re still not sure what this means.

Read what Karmarama's exchange team made of the Australian ad industry here.

Creative Karmarama The Monkeys

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