Johnson McKay of Auckland studio Fly gives us an insight into their ideology and what he looks for when hiring interns
We interview Johnson McKay, Creative Director and founder of Fly - a boutique integrated agency that believes in creating powerful work that disrupts thinking, moves emotions and causes action.

Tell us a bit about what drives Fly to create the great work that it does

People are constantly bombarded with advertising over kill. As anti-advertising defence shields get more and more sophisticated, brands are looking for new ways to genuinely engage people. We threw the baby out with the bath water to create a completely new approach to marketing in a post advertising generation.

We work with Clients to find what is authentic, relevant and without a hint of spin. We then develop a creative strategy that disrupts thinking, moves emotions and causes action. We call it "Movements", because it spreads spontaneously and naturally, rather than being forced on people.

Creating Movements is at the heart of everything we do and why we are called Fly.

How did Fly start?

After 8 years in advertising and creative roles, my brother in law, Shane Hansen and I could see how our unique perspectives to engaging people would benefit brands.  But also, to create the change we thought was necessary would take us to start our own agency, rather than reinvent from within another company.  We developed our model for helping brands create Movements and after a few weeks had secured work from Air New Zealand, TVNZ, Frucor, Sanitarium and Goodman Fielder. Things grew pretty quick from there.

What has been your favourite project collaboration in recent times?

The project that is captivating my mind the most at the moment is a collaboration with MINI for Urbis Design Day. “Design In Tension.”  Tension is at the centre of music, story, art and all creative endeavours. The effect of it on us is thrilling, familiar, eternal and authentic.  Design In Tension is a visual expression and engaging experience of tension in design and driving. is going live on the 20th of March.   We are also working with Phoenix Organic Drinks on The Love Project, which works with Sustainable Coastlines to help clean up our coastlines.  It’s been a 13 month project so far and we’ve been all over NZ and Australia.  So it’s been fulfilling to do good in the community.

Top 3 tips you can give fresh graduates looking for a job or an internship

1. Identify your unique gifts and talent and ensure that they are clearly demonstrated through your portfolio and CV.  Read the book Great Work, Great Career for the best tips on how to do this.  Don’t try to be the illustrator, typographer, photographer and art director all at once.  Choose a path that builds on your gifts and become the best at that.

2. Look outside just design for what your total package offer could be to a company.  You may be a great communicator, excellent organiser, work best in a team, or be the guy with courage to push past ordinary thinking. The more you know what you can contribute, the more you’ll recognise the right company culture for you to work in.  That may require you to do some free internships to learn this about yourself.

3. Expect to work.  I don’t believe in working late hours as a slave for the agency.  But if you don’t love what you’re doing enough to dream about it, research it, test it and talk about it, then perhaps you’re in the wrong profession.

5. Favourite NZ designers / Illustrators / artist?

I appreciate the intelligent simplicity of Alt Group. The digital sexiness of Sons & Co.  The funk of A+ Design.  The grit of Fuman Design.  My bro, Shane Hansen is the most genius creative I’ve ever worked with. Super creative, always emotionally engaging and original.  I’m working heaps with Walter Hansen on work for Lightbox, MINI, Phoenix.  He is the ying to my yang.


Design In Tension: Fly's exhibit for Mini at Urbis Design Day





Lightbox Launch


Phoenix Love Project