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The flow state, the idea of flow was about a mindset. It's about what you believe in and feeling a certain way. And so the campaign is all about how you feel in the moment.

Episode 12

On effective lead generation, artificial intelligence, the role of place making and how to go with the flow.

James Cooper | Founder & Director | Metropolis & CAMPAIGNxpress

James is the Founder and Director at Metropolis and CAMPAIGNxpress.

Metropolis is a marketing consultancy for the property industry that James founded 14 years ago. It has offices in Sydney and Melbourne with a client list of some of Australia’s leading commercial agencies, project marketers, developers and investors. James & his team have created some of Australia’s most iconic property brand, media & marketing campaigns including the Flour Mill in Summer Hill, East End in Newcastle, Waterline Place in Williamstown Melbourne & Mary Lane in Brisbane – amongst many others.

James also founded CAMPAIGNxpress – marketing software that was created for the real estate and government sectors. It enables real estate agents and government departments to
manage integrated marketing and media campaigns online via web-based workflow that is connected to media channels and a supply chain.

Prior to property marketing, James worked in some of Australia’s leading creative agencies and public relations firms. He’s part of the YPO (young presidents organisation) Sydney Pacific Chapter, a lover of most sports, fitness, food, Italian wine and a father of four kids who take up every spare second of his existence outside of work.

In this episode James shares his wisdom on effective lead generation, the mysterious world of artificial intelligence, the role of place making and how to go with the flow.

Transcript

Anthony Denman:
James, welcome to the Property Marketing Podcast.

James Cooper:
Thanks for having me Ant.

Anthony Denman:
No, I really appreciate you joining us. Interesting juxtaposition that one, that food, Italian wine, and exercise. Can I just say my idea of juxtaposing those two things would have been, back in the day of course, would have been lunch at Fratelli Paradisio followed by an all nighter.

James Cooper:
Well, it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s just that if you have to wake up to four children, the all nighter part just becomes a little bit tedious. So instead I’d like to wake up the next morning, go and train and pay for my sins that way.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, you do. Is there a particular training regime that you’re fond of?

James Cooper:
I train at a gym in Double Bay called be fit and it’s kind of high intensity stuff. It’s pretty hardcore, but I try and go most mornings at about 6:00 and that kind of gets me up and out of the house. In some ways, sadly it’s replaced part of my social life. Some of my mates go there, we train together. So it’s a way for us to have a chat, have a quick coffee afterwards, and then just get into starting the day. So it’s about 45 minutes and I’m home by sort of 7:00 and then I’m ready to go in the office by 8:00. So it’s good for me, keeps me focused, keeps my head clear and just helps me manage stress, which is really important.

Anthony Denman:
Every day you do that?

James Cooper:
Yeah, pretty much every day. If I don’t go there, then I’ll go for a run or for a swim, or when it’s a bit warmer, I’ll go for surf. I’m probably a bit of a fair weather surfer. So not trucking out there in the middle of winter at the moment, but I’m just trying to make the most of being at the beach. I’m living down at Bondi at the moment. We’re renovating our house, so it’s great being down on the beach and having that ability to use the beach when I want it. So I try and do something every day, basically.

Anthony Denman:
Be fit in Double Bay. They’re still open? What happened there with the COVID thing?

James Cooper:
No. Well, they did shut for a period of time and then they shifted the whole biz… the whole thing shifted online. So they gave out the equipment from the gym and then they moved to doing the classes via zoom and everyone jumped online and kind of salvage what I could off the internet in terms of fitness equipment, throw it in the back of my car and I was just training with one or two mates, back in the park, first at Centennial and then at Moore park and just wherever we could just find some nice wide open space and it was still warm in April, May so it was good just to be out in the sun. So it didn’t really dive in for that stuff and more recently, like the last two weeks it’s just reopened again. So I’m just getting back into it. It’s great. But I still manage to try and almost every day during the lockdown.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Good, good. And it shows too, I mean, you’re a fit looking guy.

James Cooper:
It’s really sad that that doesn’t come across in the podcast, the audio.

Anthony Denman:
Handsome man. Alright. So let’s get into it. So what came first in your career? Were you a PR guy or creative agency?

James Cooper:
Yeah, I was PR. I actually, I worked in London and I worked in this bar called Pharmacy. That opened in Notting Hill Gate and it was like a Damien Hirst kind of concept restaurant. And one of the partners in it was a guy called Matthew Freud who was a famous London PR guy. He did the spice girls and he’s married now to or maybe was married to Elizabeth Murdoch. And I kind of worked in that bar and I just saw what he was doing and I thought that guy was having some real fun. And it kind of inspired me into the PR thing. So when I got back to Sydney, I sought out a job and I got a job working at Publicist Mojo, which was a PR agency that had been started by, well, is the PR agency they started called Publicist Drum. And I worked there for a little while, and then I got offered a job at Publicist WellCare, which was their healthcare business.

James Cooper:
I worked at Mojo for a little while, and then after that I left and started my own business, the business actually is still around today. It was a property focused business called Charles Lloyd.

Anthony Denman:
I just want to backtrack a bit. So you pursued working in PR, but what was your job description?

James Cooper:
It was like account manager, but I think what I was doing a lot more of in those days was booking restaurants and just trying to do some amount of work. I think when I started really was the last sort of glory days of advertising and we were down in Yurong street in East Sydney there, and Mario’s, the restaurant was still open and Beppi’s, it was still those days where the senior directors and the creative directors, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday would be lunching with clients. And I’d be fortunate enough to go along to a few of those lunches and participate and chat. And it was really good because you got to connect with the older guys on a social level and you learn a little bit about work as well, as well as how they manage relationships. And those days, I think, unfortunately for advertising are long gone, and it’s a lot more hard work now, but it was kind of a fun start.

James Cooper:
So I was an account manager, but my skills were many and varied, I was sometimes responsible for trying to find stock tips, book restaurants, make sure that tailors were booked, all this sort of stuff. So it’s pretty funny stuff.

Anthony Denman:
No, it’s just the heady days of advertising. I mean, God, too much fun.

James Cooper:
It was the back end of it.

Anthony Denman:
So what led you? Because I know Charles Lloyd, are they still around?

James Cooper:
They are, yeah. My middle name is Lloyd. So I started that with a partner and his middle name was Charles. And so that’s how we formed the agency, it was Charles Lloyd. And unfortunately, we didn’t see eye to eye on the future direction of the business. I really saw that there was an opportunity and property. I thought it was a pretty important category for the country. I kind of thought, well, what could be more important for instance, sort of buying a home. It’s a pretty important purchasing decision. So I was big on the property thing, my partner on the time wasn’t as big and he wanted to invest in more creative projects. And so we had a split. We decided to go our separate ways and I actually sold out of Charles Lloyd, but it is actually still around today. So Alex who owns and runs it, it’s still around and we still see them and compete with them actually. Quite interestingly particularly in commercial, they’ve got a really good sort of foothold in the commercial world.

Anthony Denman:
Yes. So you were the suit and he was the creative director per se.

James Cooper:
We were actually both suits. The creative side of it we were both really across that aspect. And we had a couple of art, like an art director and then a senior designer we were working with and it worked. It was a great little business and it was growing and I really wanted to continue that, but it just couldn’t work out that way. So I decided to sell out of that business. And that’s when I started metropolis.

Anthony Denman:
So you talked about the importance of buying a home and what a significant investment that is, I mean, knowing you, you must’ve seen a greater opportunity.

James Cooper:
Yeah, I did. I mean, funnily enough, I was aware, obviously, of our agency, your business, and I think about a year before, Bob St. Julian started The Property Agency. So I could see that there was opportunity there, but more over, I had quite a few friends working in property development and commercial agency, and there was a need for marketing. And what really sparked my interest was we got a job working for Toga and multiplex on Jones Bay Wharf. So the original work had been sort of done and set up, and it looked great, but it wasn’t working because it wasn’t founded in the strategy of what was actually going on in that area. So Pyrmont as an area, was like an emerging commercial destination that was struggling to get people all the way down to Jones Bay Wharf, simply because people didn’t really know where it was.

James Cooper:
So we worked on the basis that actually the campaign was more about Pyrmont than it was about Jones Bay Wharf. Even though when you got down to Jones Bay Wharf, it was beautiful, this incredible commercial refurb, beautiful restaurant at the end, amazing project and an amazing iconic piece of Harbourside real estate, but they just weren’t getting people down there and people couldn’t come to terms with Pyrmont as a commercial destination. So we spent a lot of time working with a developer on not just marketing the product, but actually doing a job for the location. So we did a local scene. We worked really hard with the PR company to get the right messaging out there and then to support the pitch and with the collateral that made Pyrmont a viable destination for, it was a strata project actually. So it was people wanting to buy an office and be down there by the water.

James Cooper:
And that set me off in this direction and I was like, you know what? There’s something in this. There’s commercial, there’s retail, there’s residential. The shopping centers were owned by in effect property trusts and it was the emergence, with time the emergence of companies like Charter Hall, the rates that were starting to really take off. And so that was the kind of Genesis of originally Charles Lloyd, but then really specifically Metropolis. Where I was like, okay, I want this to be property focused, but I want to have it wide range of services. I want to be doing creative. I want to be doing websites because in those days that was I starting to take off and I really want to be doing the media side of it as well. I want to actually be able to offer an end-to-end service to any property client in any part or segment of the market. And that was my vision for Metropolis.

Anthony Denman:
Did you come up with the name?

James Cooper:
Yeah, I did. I did communications at UTS and I remember in one of the courses we studied the movie, The Metropolis, that sort of film noir thing by Fritz Lang. And it was this black and white kind of big machine that was all about the thriving Metropolis and that was kind of my metaphor for the agency in a way, it was this kind of idea of a big thriving machine that I wanted to build.

Anthony Denman:
Cool name. I love it.

James Cooper:
Thanks.

Anthony Denman:
And how different is FMC? Were you doing FMCG at those bigger agencies?

James Cooper:
I did some FMCG, but mainly healthcare actually. And that’s actually what gave me comfort in wanting to specialize. I saw a value in specializing and having deep knowledge of a particular category. The guys that I worked for at WellCare actually where my first partners in Metropolis and they went off and started the health care business called Ursa. And so when I left Charles Lloyd, I reconnected with them and I said, “Look, you’ve started this healthcare specialist business. I want to start a property specialist business. Can we work together on doing that?” And so we did. And that’s how Metropolis got started. So my background really always has been in specialization. When I was working in PR, I spent a year and a half working for a company called Text100, which was a specialist PR company working in the IT sector around the dot-com boom and that was fun.

James Cooper:
It’s kind of actually always been my thing. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an imposter being a generalist. I like knowing about a category and getting into the weeds of it. And I feel a lot of the generalist agencies, they’re sort of great, but particularly when you come up against them in property, you can see why they gloss over the top and kind of miss the point sometimes. And so I think there’s some value in being specialist and really knowing what you talking about.

Anthony Denman:
Do you class yourself as an adman or a tech entrepreneur?

James Cooper:
Well, these days, I don’t know if there’s anything different. If there’s that much difference, but I definitely don’t sort of feel myself. I’m not wandering around in a black skivvy and jeans and sneakers try to be the next Steve Jobs tech entrepreneur. That doesn’t really define me. I’m not.

Anthony Denman:
I think you’d make that sing. I really do.

James Cooper:
Yeah. I just think all I’m doing is just… I’m just trying to keep pace with where marketing’s going. Before it was like this advertising and marketing and then there’s technology, right? And used to go to meetings where it was like, oh, this comes out of the marketing budget. And then the CIO would come in and he goes, and this comes out of the IT budget. So if you’re doing anything digital, you’d be talking to both departments. And I remember seeing a study that Gartner had released, where they said that, by 2017 or 2018 that the marketing director of the CMO will have more spend on technology than the CIO and Gartner were right. And so now, where our business is really pitched, is at the crux of creativity and technology and media. My view is you need that mix of skills now in order to be the modern marketer. And so I don’t necessarily see myself as tech entrepreneur. I don’t necessarily see myself as adman. I sort of see myself as marketer and with a skillset that’s just necessary to be that now.

Anthony Denman:
Can you tell us a little bit about, because you’ve got the two businesses, Metropolis and campaign express?

James Cooper:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Just a little bit about campaign express.

James Cooper:
Yeah, sure. So we ran an appointment on a client, Aussie Home Loans, way back in the day, actually before they had really scaled to be as big as they were. In fact, I think at the time they had 24 franchise offices and I think it was 150 mobile lenders. And we had a piece of technology that we were running a particular client account on and we’d submitted for AdNews Agency of the year. And we were a finalist in the emerging agency of the year and specialist agency of the year categories. And one of the judges of that particular award show was a guy called Stuart Tucker, who was the head of marketing, new head of marketing at Aussie. And he saw what we’d done and said, “Listen, I need something to help me manage my franchise channel.” And because of our property specialization, we felt confident. We were like, “Yeah, look, we get that. We totally understand that finances intrinsic part of property purchase.” We kind of get the decentralized model because we’re servicing a national client from a central office, lots of different moving parts and then there’s the ability that they had this need to want to control the brand as they rolled it out.

James Cooper:
So we built this thing for them or set it up for them and then we were sort of doing some testing and getting ready to go live and then on Christmas Eve, we got a phone call to say, “Hey, guys just wanted to let you know that we’ve just gone unconditional on Wizard Home Loans. So we’re going to scale the platform from 24 franchises to 150 franchises, and from 150 mobile lenders to 600 mobile lenders. So do you think you can do that?” And we were like, “Yeah, sure we can.”

Anthony Denman:
I love it.

James Cooper:
Some part of it was kind of the perfect way to get into it with them. And that was the Genesis really of campaign express. It was originally a local area marketing platform, then we had the CBRE commercial account and also the CBRE residential projects account as well for media. And we ended up building it out to be suitable for end to end campaign management with those guys. So it started as, and then it morphed into this real estate system. And more recently we formed a partnership with GroupM, which is WPP’s big media powerhouse to set up or use the platform for self-service media and campaign management for all of the government departments. So on the platform we have Queensland Government, Victorian Government, New South Wales Government, South Australian Government, and Tourism Queensland now, using it. So all the non-campaign activity, I guess it’s all that stuff that’s like a low value and hard to manage with people. We kind of automate that.

James Cooper:
And what we’ve actually ended up being in the business of is business process automation with campaign express. So what we’re trying to do in a way is kind of automate a lot of the processes within a media agency and bring in the various different kind of supply chain partners like publishers or printers or different digital platforms such that that kind of lower end aspect of the campaigns that doesn’t require a huge amount of strategy, but really requires really efficient execution can be automated. And that’s really what campaign express is. And just by virtue of the fact that we’ve done that, Metropolis as a business has benefited that because we’re a client of campaign express, we use that software to run our clients. We use that software really to run our business. So it’s integrated with our finance system. And, on behalf of say, colliers’ commercial, we might do two and a half thousand campaigns a year, which range from $5,000 a piece to a hundred thousand dollars.

James Cooper:
And with all the moving parts in those campaigns, there’s just no way that that could be managed manually well by humans. So software really has to play a role. And the software allows us to scale to a national organization to manage that nationally and we have a kind of a help desk and support and ticketing system where we can track all our interactions with the various different clients, where we’re getting issues on kind of different areas where there might be finance, where we’re seeing a lot of tickets being generated. So we know we need to focus on either training there or look out for the development, the platform. So we’re sort of business process automation, and Metropolis as a result is a relatively efficient business, because we have software, our own software at the core of what we do.

Anthony Denman:
Great. Now let’s talk about Metropolis. Digital lead generation.

James Cooper:
Yeah. I was looking the other day, sitting down with the guys from CBRE residential, and I was looking at what the complexion of a media schedule looked like, five, six years ago when we started working with them, and what the complexion of a media schedule looks like now. So at the time, REA and to a lesser extent Domain, they probably had four to five products that you could buy, so they’d like a home page takeover by half page and Emerick, pretty basic, and you’re buying CPM stuff. There was no sophisticated targeting, no off platform, extension products. It was really quite easy to put together a schedule, and of course print was playing a big role. The Domain book for the off the plan market was kind of a Bible. It was at the place where you would go to see what was in the market and who had the listings and CBRE had quite a dominant position in the market. And those days they had a committed spots in the media.

James Cooper:
And so we went in to that account, looking at how we can kind of streamline the operation of trying to manage 30 live campaigns at once, but also with a view that technology was definitely reshaping the way in which people were engaging with property. And I think that the lead generation stuff came about four years ago, like thick and fast. Previously the way to do, was you ran print ads, you kind of did signage, and then you listed on the portals, and then you might get some outlandish developers who wanted to wrap a tram in Melbourne or something, or they’d do some bus sides or, but maybe airport signage, that sort of thing. But what we got onto quite early was the growth in traffic that can be generated through our website from search and then also as Facebook began to monetize its audience and build out its business model that social could be used for leads. And so we build a business unit specifically around being able to provide search and social as complimentary to the portal activity and print and whatever else we’re doing, and we were quite early on actually with that. So out of all the property agencies, we were probably the first, I’d say. The all new agencies that worked in that media space, probably the first.

Anthony Denman:
I’d say definitely the first.

James Cooper:
Yeah. We also had like a tech, our tech running our business. So our own tech allowed us to be more efficient and then reposition and shift and pivot the resources within the business toward this search and social thing, and away we went. And so we got some pretty stunning results. The one thing that was kind of cool that you could do with Facebook and Google, that you couldn’t do with the portals at the time, is you could measure cost per lead, right? Which was like wow! The portals were still trying to sell you inventory based on views and clicks, right? And when Google and Facebook came into the market, it bought a new honesty because actually they had to step up and say, “No, we’re going to give you cost per lead as well. We’re going to have to do all that too.” And they also cottoned onto the threat of those platforms, Google and Facebook to their own kind of offering.

James Cooper:
And so they started building out an offering, their own audience extension products, which are really effective because you’ve got an in-market audience with an intent to buy property of a certain type coming to those platforms. And then when they go away, they’re being retargeted on their social platforms. And then also by the Google Display Network. So is like perfect for that kind of following the customer, top of mind awareness thing. Now those products, they’re pretty effective, but there can be different ways that you can use search and social to generate leads. And some of the early criticism of that stuff was that it generated a lot of top of funnel inquiries. So a lot of agents would say, “Oh, this these leads are shit quality.” People don’t know that they’re even really inquiring on this property that they have, and I’ve called them and they said that they don’t know anything about it and that’s true, but to an extent.

James Cooper:
But I think the big difference was that none of those businesses were at that time set up to properly nurture people through a process. So if they were top of funnel leads, there was an intent and an interest there what they didn’t have and what they weren’t set up to do was take them from, oh, I’m a little bit interested through a journey all the way down to, I’m ready to purchase. And of course, what they wanted was only to talk to the people that were interested in purchasing, because that’s what the developer wants. He just wants to bring people who are ready to purchase and they get paid because… On the basis of sales, but that’s changed a lot, right? Because there’s so many more leads coming from digital. So the segmentation of those leads and the kind of organization of them and the ability to nurture them through different paths has become a complex and challenging process that any kind of developer or project marketer is experiencing right now.

James Cooper:
And over the last year, with two years with the market downturn around APRA restrictions and then credit crunch and royal commission into COVID, where you’ve got a lot of people on site looking, looking, looking interested, but are they really ready to buy? Is a great opportunity to capture that top of funnel audience and start a conversation with them and start bringing them down through your funnel. So that’s kind of our understanding if you like or our experience with the lead gen side of it, there was a lot of snake oil sold into the category by one or two agencies that came in and said, “Yeah, we can generate all this stuff and we’ll do this and whizzbang and what have you.” And then they burned a lot of relationships. We kind of lost a few clients to those guys and then they came back. And at the end of the day, that stuff is great, lead gen stuff is fantastic. But if you don’t build a good brand and you don’t build awareness, then that stuff is just not as effective and you need to be able to do both.

James Cooper:
And that’s what we’re set up to do, is that we provide that kind of big picture awareness. We work in a creative sense to build brands that cut through. We work with great agencies like yourself and TPA and established agencies in the industry that build the good brands and good creative and had a good proposition. And then a lot of our job is trying to bring the awareness and then have that join up with the lead generation piece. It’s too easy these days to just look at the lead generation and go, oh, that’s cost per lead. Oh yeah. That’s it. We can measure that. We’ll just put all our eggs into that basket. That doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. And you can end up in a situation where you really heavily, heavily reliant on Google and Facebook just to generate you the leads, and you’ve forgotten about building a brand for your project, let alone building a brand for your own company, being a developer, and taking a longterm view on, what you want to do and the legacy that you want to leave for the projects that you create.

Anthony Denman:
That’s brilliant. We’ll talk a little a bit more about the creative stuff later, before we do that, AI. I know how it look, I know, I don’t know anything, anywhere near as much as you do about AI. I do know it’s quite a broad category. So machine learning all the way through to emotional intelligence, the small amount of exposure I’ve had to it is actually been working with you guys and Google constructing the messages.

James Cooper:
Yeah. It’s really effective. It’s scary. Just to illustrate that example. So Google have what’s called predictive search, right? It’s a machine learning enabled process where you tip in a whole bunch of images and a whole bunch of messages, and they then decide on how to arrange those messages and images to create ads, to generate interest from people. And it’s been pretty highly effective in certain situations. It does generate leads. It does really boost performance, but at the end, performance in terms of generating leads. But I think that to rely solely on that stuff, it actually doesn’t work. It’s not like the machine can decide, because what the machine doesn’t understand is, let’s say we’re marketing a project in Alexandria and we’re in a certain part of Alexandria that is a new part of Alexandria that’s being developed out versus another part of Alexandria that’s really well established and has great amenity and is sort of a better place, if you you like for apartments.

James Cooper:
At the end of the day, the machine looks at that and goes, oh, it’s an apartment and it’s in Alexandria, right? So the nuancing of that and the storytelling around that, none of that you can do through that process, all you can do is just kind of get that first glint of interest and hope that then by bringing them to the right digital environment, the right conversion environment, that you might be able to start an ongoing conversation with them, then might bring them to a display suite that might then get them into an apartment sale. But I always say that property’s not sold by machines. It just isn’t. It’s sold by people, right? Still people want to see something, touch and feel it. And yes, through COVID, it’s been quite interesting in that, they’ve had to do that from an arms length process, but I think given the opportunity to come back and connect and touch and feel, people want to know, particularly if it’s their home, what it is that they’re buying?

James Cooper:
And so the AI thing, I did a bit reading on a while ago. Yeah. I kind of got worried about, Oh my God, is the media world, is my business going to get automated? Are the robots coming? So I started reading about automation and business process automation and AI machine learning. And for about a year, I read quite a lot of stuff on that. And there is a lot of doomsday kind of scenarios, where mass unemployment is going to be created by machine learning and robotics. And to an extent, I think that could be true. And with the exponential growth in technology, the speed at which that’s happening might mean that we can’t move fast enough in order to combat what’s going on, but at the same time, I find that the machine learning that is applied in my life, that I experience and understand is really rudimentary and it takes into account nothing of what it’s like to really be human.

James Cooper:
And I use Spotify as an example, if you listen to electronic dance music on Spotify, they’re going to serve you up a whole bunch of electronic dance music, They kind of funnel you down a path if you like. And that’s at least for me, my interest isn’t just so singular like that. So in some ways, they talk about artificial intelligence, but I had another way to describe at the moment. And most of what’s being used is actually intelligent assistance, it’s IA. So what it’s doing, is it’s kind of gathering and assessing your data. And then it’s suggesting new things that you might based on your previous behavior, okay. So that’s really what Google and Facebook do so, so, so well, is they basically build these huge digital avatars of who you are and then they monetize those through advertising. But the point being that, I don’t know if it’s an experiment that’s kind of going wrong, where people just get funneled down this path, and all of a sudden you find yourself sort of funneled down this path, thinking Jesus, what happened? Why am I here? And why was so much of these stuff, these decisions made for me?

James Cooper:
So I don’t know if humanity might not just push back against that at some point, I think some of the social unrest and things that are happening in the world, thanks very much to the kind of sensation machine that is Facebook. They want to keep people on screen. They want to keep pushing them stuff that keeps them connected. I don’t know if governments aren’t going to legislate against that and say, “Look, we just cannot have this.” We can’t have just three or four companies just monopolizing the global market on people’s data. At some point those companies, they’re probably going to get broken up and it’s kind of starting to happen now. So Google are being forced to pay publishers, Facebook are being forced to introduce different privacy controls, it’s all happening.

James Cooper:
And the ease at which you can then collect and manipulate data through AI or machine learning will, in a Western sense, get harder and harder. What they’re doing in China is completely the opposite. They’re going way down the path of saying, let’s centralize everyone’s data. Let’s completely build a profile for every single person. And let’s have the four major companies there pretty much in control of the different portfolios of AI as designated by the government. So it’s a really interesting time where the world, in respect of those two, it’s like a sliding doors moment, almost. America and China are going in a way in opposite directions. Of course, we’ve got this whole kind of power struggle around that. I guess it’s going to be an interesting experiment for both sides. And me personally, I’m probably on the side of privacy rights and people knowing what’s being done with their data, and that’s only going to present more and more challenges for marketers, as we go into a cookieless world and GDPR becomes more important in Australia, but that’s what makes good marketers, right. Is you’ve got to get around the challenges. You’ve got to learn about how to deal with the cards that you’re dealt in the legislative sense. And then also in the understanding how, and what’s important to people in terms of their behavior.

Anthony Denman:
Have you done much reading on EI?

James Cooper:
Which is?

Anthony Denman:
Emotional intelligence. Seriously

James Cooper:
My wife would argue. No.

Anthony Denman:
EI, interesting, have a look into that or let me scratch the surface, there’s facial recognition. So looking at your phone, it can predict how you’re responding to a message and alter the message based on your facial movements, which is a fascinating area of, and kind of scarier, isn’t it?

James Cooper:
Yeah. I mean-

Anthony Denman:
Than the AI stuff.

James Cooper:
Yeah. I mean that idea that a machine can kind of work out what you’re feeling, it’s pretty scary. If you actually, any of the stuff around the manipulation of the last U.S. elections, both by the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica, and the Russians is fascinating, right? The way that they were kind of just using a deep understanding of people’s worst emotions to manipulate their behavior, it’s quite scary. And as a marketer, you go, oh, wow. That’s fantastic. It’d be great to be able to do that, but as a person who’s also been marketed to, you kind of go, I don’t know if I like that. Like I don’t know if I’m cool with that.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I’m hearing you. Okay. So let’s change the pace a bit and talk about, this is a really interesting area, I’m fascinated to get your thoughts on this one, place creation or strategic urbanism. As Craig Allchin from Ethos Urban puts it, again, without over-simplifying that whole area of work ideas that manifest the brand in place. It’s that grey area. It’s that space between the objects. I mean, otherwise being like who owns this area, and obviously Andy Hoyne will tell you it’s him, that he is the purveyor of this space. He’s certainly, he’s all over that niche. I think because it’s interesting, because I thought well, isn’t that the domain of the architects, but architects are very pragmatic and I think more along, they think more objectively. They think about space and how it can be crafted and how it feels to live within the space.

Anthony Denman:
But then you’ve got a master plan communities and even just a single building with the rooftop. You’ve got this space that sits outside of the object and whose job is it to brainstorm that space.

James Cooper:
Yeah, it’s a really good question. And look, Andy has done a great job in kind of researching that space and understanding it. And I think actually it’s a genuine passion of his and it’s obviously playing out and what he wants to do with his business, being that they are all about placemaking, I think where I struggle a little bit with our role is how much can the brand and the creativity impact the element that really makes the place. And that is of course the urban design. So if you worked with a company like aspect studios, who I think are an example of a genuine place maker, they specialize in urban regeneration and they specialize in designing the space between buildings. And unlike the difference between someone like them and say Andy’s business is that they actually design the physical environment.

James Cooper:
Andy brings to it an element of energy and creativity and brand. But it’s not always possible that in the order of the way things get done, commercially that the creative agency can really truly impact that. Now a good example is if you were doing a commercial building, the actual proper way to do that would be this, and you had a bunch of retail at the base. Like let us say, you had five retail spaces at the base. The real way to do that, right? Would be to say, let’s go out and lease all the retail space. And let’s sell this vision to the retailers and let’s get them in. And then let’s sell the creativity they can bring to the way they run their businesses and the environment, and the retailers will ultimately create along with the fantastic design of however those sort of spaces interact to a commercial tenant to say, this is the place that you want to be, right?

James Cooper:
But when you talk to any developer, they’ll be like, okay, but if I don’t lease the commercial space, there actually isn’t any retail, it doesn’t actually exist. So the commercial reality of it is like, a developer’s not going to say, “Sure, man. Don’t worry about the 250 apartments upstairs. Let’s actually get the retail right, you know what I mean? Like, it just doesn’t work that way. I want to sell the apartments and then they’ve got to do the best possible job they can with a content strategy around the retail to be able to execute that. And someone like Angela Bonnefin, from Retail Strategy is great at doing that, And we had the opportunity at East End in Newcastle to work with Aspect Studios and to work with Angela. It was really interesting in that, that was a project where the New South Wales Government was spending $500 million on revitalizing Newcastle.

James Cooper:
So there was a whole bunch of public space upgrades, lane way upgrades. It just so happened that East End, the project along Hunter Street was adjacent to or really part of the revitalization of Newcastle. So our position on it was, well, hang on. We want to be part of that. We want to be seen as part of that. Our positioning and our messaging was that we were part of the revitalization, the centre of Newcastle, but there was a lot more going on beyond the development in terms of actual urban design that was going to bring that. What was going to be allowed that to be true, right? And that’s where I kind of struggle with the notion of placemaking that it should be the responsibility of a creative agency. It’s the responsibility of… The place maker is ultimately the developer, like it’s their responsibility. And I always think, it’s about what you do, not what you say. So if you’re saying all this sort of stuff for your marketing and then the end result is actually not that much good urban design in the end, and that’s a shit outcome.

James Cooper:
If it’s about saying, you know what? Actually, we’re going to carve off piece of the feasibility and we’re going to really invest in designing the space between buildings. We’re going to be creative in the way we do that. And yes, we’re going to bring the creative agency into that process. And we want them to be able to really tell the story around how we’re doing that and sell it to the end customer. Then that’s the role of the creative agency, but I don’t see that necessarily the creative agencies are the place makers. I think the place maker and the place making is ultimately up to good developers who invest in that, who want to leave a legacy of building good places, who work hard with the regulatory environment and the councils to be able to get the right kind of things approved, and then that contract, the good urban designers and the good architects that know how to create those kinds of places and know how to make them work.

James Cooper:
And then the creative agency is the hot water in the bath. They take that, they build the story around that, and then ultimately they do what we’re supposed to do. And that is either get a sale or get a lease based on what it is that we sell to the particular customer. So by matching the deepest understanding of the customer to the best parts of the place we hope to achieve the outcome, which is the result that we’re really ultimately being paid for. And that is, i.e, the process of getting a sale or getting a lease.

Anthony Denman:
You’ve been quoted as saying that, sameness is our enemy.

James Cooper:
Yeah. I feel that I like that saying, because I just think that in marketing, there’s quite a lot of sameness in the way that property marketing comes together. And I think that, I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I mean, not quite as long as you Ant, but for quite a while. And I feel like there have been a lot of pitches and things that we’ve lost where we have taken a more adventurous or creative route, and it’s been founded in strategy and deep understanding of the customer. And these days, our ability to understand the customer through the data tools that we have on the media side of the businesses is quite good, and we can not only understand the demographics, but also the psychographics. What they think, what they feel and we’re constantly looking for new research. There’s a whole bunch of research around, the post COVID consumer, for instance, And the impact this has had on people’s kind of aspirations and hopes and the way they think about brands.

James Cooper:
So we’re constantly looking at that aspect of how to match a product to a particular customer segment. How to make a connection, particularly on an emotional level. And what I find is that property is so much about track record and de-risking a situation. So a developer will look at someone and go, oh, well, have they done this before? Have they done a project in this area before? Have they done luxury? Do they really understand luxury? Have they done luxury? It’s got nothing to do with that, to be honest. It’s really got to do with a deep understanding of the customer, but people don’t see it that way because they don’t want to do something that’s different and get caught out. And having that mantra of sameness as our enemy has probably been my enemy at times. Where I’ve gone in and said, look, here’s a different way to do it. Here’s a totally different way to think about this.

James Cooper:
And here’s a way for us to move forward. And the funny thing is the two campaign… We won the UDI marketing excellence award. Oh, sorry. We got a recommendation for the UDI marketing excellence award for East End and we won it up in Queensland for a project we did for a developer up they called Veda. In both of those campaigns, Were the ones where the developers said, “You know what? We think you’re right. We trust you and we’ll let you run with it.” And what that gives is, it gives the agency a passion for what it is that they’re creating and the thought is deeper and the effort is greater, because people are connected to the work they’re doing and they think, yeah this is, it’s got meaning. So sameness is our enemy? Yes, it is. But it doesn’t always translate into winning the pitch because a lot of the time clients aren’t confident about the marketing or they know that they’ve probably, they’re not delivering a product or a design that deserves to really cut through.

James Cooper:
So then you make these grand promises and then of course the product doesn’t really stack up. So I think the opportunity for creative agencies is to spend a little bit more time with developers thinking about the product itself about the design and the inclusions that go into a project that will give it a point of difference in a particular market.

Anthony Denman:
Nomenculture.

James Cooper:
Nomenculture.

Anthony Denman:
Nomenculture. Does anyone out there know what that means?

James Cooper:
It’s a musical term. Do you know that? It is.

Anthony Denman:
You studied musical?

James Cooper:
Yeah. No. I did music for my HSC. I was a saxophone player. I spent a lot of time playing music growing up. And nomenculture is the name given to the terms or terminology that describes music, right? Particularly classical music. So it is a collection of names. So, when we talk about naming buildings, I have been known every now and then to throw in the word nomenclature. And I don’t think that one person has ever understood what that means. But I feel like I’m getting something out of my 12 years of relentless practice of my music. Back in my professional career at a later date. So there you go, mum and dad, there’s your investment right back at you.

Anthony Denman:
That’s so cool. I love that story. I love that backstory. When I first heard it I thought, what the fuck that does that mean?

James Cooper:
Good research.

Anthony Denman:
So how do you feel about choosing devising, choosing names for buildings? I mean, what’s, do you have like… Its a tough question, I know, but-

James Cooper:
What I think is a bit of a missed opportunity. I don’t know how you, Australians are so blatantly impressed by things that happen overseas, like using Central Park as an example, right. Frasers’ project, amazing project. Probably in my opinion, the most heroic and amazing project in Sydney, maybe in Australia, and you don’t know that you’ll see another one like it. It was just phenomenal. And Dr. Quek was kind of equal parts, visionary and crazy to even do that, and we were fortunate enough to market a couple of the buildings in that project, some of the stage releases. And I thought to myself, man, what a race, the middle to call it, Central Park. I know that it’s at Central and it’s kind of… But it just felt like Central Park belongs to another place. It belongs to Central Park in New York. And I don’t know. I just would hope that it would be nice to see some really authentically Australian names of projects, particularly projects of significance like that.

James Cooper:
But this place and the street name and these sort of names that we see, like, I don’t know, I know it wins pitches. It’s hard not to want to go down that path because you’re like, yeah, we know that this is a pretty tried and tested direction, but it feels like a race to the middle to me. It doesn’t feel particularly confident or different or interesting. And people always sit back and Marvel at brands like Tim Gurner or Fridcorp from Melbourne or BPM and how quickly they built notoriety and they’ve done it through really confident, differentiated marketing and they’d built product. Yes, that is just wow. But the marketing has always been differentiated and I tip my hat to those brands for their confidence. And I think that there’s a lot that could be learned from that, in terms of just standing out in the crowd.

James Cooper:
And if you’ve got the fundamentals, right, if you really understand the customer and what motivates them and how to sell the product and the products got good features, and you can explain the story around that, and the design team is strong when you really understand design intent and you’ve explained all that stuff, then that stuff will always be there to make sure that the customer feels comfortable, but we’re sort of missing an opportunity sometimes I think to do something that’s just a little bit more interesting from a marketing perspective, because the idea that the legacy lives on, like most projects just become a street address, at the end of the day. And, it’s those ones that are probably more iconic where the name actually hangs around and continues to mean something. And so I’d like to think that we can do projects where the name wants to hang around and means something.

James Cooper:
Unless of course there’s just something intrinsic to the product that, or the location that just screams out, since there’s no other way. The cache is actually in the location or the heritage or whatever it is. That’s what is the point of difference, then that name would be right. But definitely would love to see a little bit more confidence from developers in sort of the way they name and position their projects and then the way that you can creatively look at ways to connect with customers and tell good stories.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Tell good stories, right. So I think that’s the key, isn’t it? A good story. So do you find yourself telling good stories sometimes with a name you’re not too fond of?

James Cooper:
Yeah. I do. I think we find that there’s some projects definitely that we do that we don’t decide what the name is. And we think that could have… The stories that we tell are good, but just having the right name and just a little bit more confidence in a certain direction would just give it just a little bit more edge. And it might just connect someone just a little bit more to the project, like not everyone’s going to love your project, but all you need is enough people to really, really like it. And in some ways I think that’s better than trying to just be everything to everyone and just be in the middle.

Anthony Denman:
This COVID-19 thing’s been pretty interesting on a lot levels. We sort of touched on this earlier. How do you feel about presenting – very different when you can walk into a room and feel a room?

James Cooper:
Yeah. Presenting on zoom or on video call?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

James Cooper:
Actually we did probably four or five pitches over the break on zoom. And what we did here in our office was we had our boardroom and we have what we call a creative room, which has sort of like a lounge room set up as zoom rooms. So our boardroom has automated cameras beneath the TV and then in a far corner, so that when you’re presenting you can present, either as a table, or you can present as an individual. And the camera kind of connects to where the person is, that’s presenting, it kind of tracks to the person. And in the other one, we have a lounge setup, which I really like. Where you can sit three people side by side and you can zoom the camera in and out. And the back of the shots really beautifully framed. We’ve got a heritage office and it’s got this big arch way and we’ve got these black steel doors and we can frame the shot really beautifully. And I’ve found that just by thinking about it, we’re in the business of aesthetics, right?

James Cooper:
A lot of what we do is trying to present things really nicely. And I find it amazingly, when you’re on a call with someone, they’ve got like… They’re in a brown t-shirt, and the behind of them is a stack of old folders and just shit. And then you’re like, man, just frame your shot up, dude. Just make it look cool. And give yourself the ability to pop into the frame. So actually, probably, for me personally, I’ve actually found it quite cool because during the lockdown, irresponsibly or not, I was coming into my office. There was no one in here, but I had four kids at home including an eight month old baby. So my ability to get any work done during that period was minimal, three kids being homeschooled. So I was coming into our office. It was an amazing time because you could park in, we’re in Bridge Street in the city. I could park my car right at the front of the office, and not get a ticket.

James Cooper:
And then I was coming in and I was doing the zoom calls with the team, in the office. And people are like, “Oh my God, what’s he doing in the office?” And I’m like, “We’re paying the rent here, and there’s no one here.” So someone might as well use it. We got this fantastic zoom set up. Let’s use it. And I started doing that. And funnily enough, we’ve got almost, I’m not saying it’s necessarily right, but a lot of our staff are really comfortable with coming back into the office now. They don’t love the public transport commute, but actually being here in the office, they do love. Because they like being around the people that they work with. There’s an energy and a vibe and a sharing of information that happens when you’re in person, that you can’t otherwise get in. It’s a little bit like the connection in the room, in the presentation, it’s the connection with people.

James Cooper:
But what we do do is when we do our zoom calls, rather than having three different heads at home. We’ve got three people sitting on a couch together, interacting with one another, talking, and that kind of works for us. It gives a vibe and the shots well framed. So I think those things of how your camera, the angle is. What’s behind you. What you’re wearing. It’s kind of TV presenting. So do the TV presenting one-on-one course on YouTube and work out how to frame your shot, and make it look cool.

Anthony Denman:
Success means different things to different people, but I’d be interested to know which marketing campaign that you can recall most readily that you would say was one of your most successful or your most interesting.

James Cooper:
Yeah. Actually we just did one, and it’s been cool and you’ll like this Ant. It’s a project for a long time client of ours called Paul Gidoun from S&S. And he bought this site on the headland at Rainbow Bay in between, you’ve seen it flow.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

James Cooper:
So it’s pretty much sold out on the weekend, first weekend. And then I just love that campaign. That guy is like he’s living, through that project, he’s living his life passion, right? He’s going to live there with his family on top. No renters is allowed. It’s got a kick ass residents’ club with surfboard, lockers, wine cellar, parking. It’s got everything. And the apartments are big with beautiful, big balconies. It faces Northeast on one corner of Northwest on the other. The view is killer. And in front of you is arguably, correct me if I’m wrong, the best surf break in Australia with DBA, the next beach along, which is probably the most consistent surf beach in Australia where there’s warm water, it’s a paradise, right?

James Cooper:
And the way that that project has come together, to call it flow, people be like, oh God! What does that mean? But the insight was deeper. And what he was after is kindred spirits, right? He’s like, there’s only 22 of these things. I just want people who get this way of living, who get it. And those people were probably pretty much surfers. He wanted to basically have it as a place where, if he went down to the residents’ club and he saw people, they’d be like, “Hey, how are you?” And they could get along. The flow state, the idea of flow was about a mindset. It’s about what you believe in and feeling a certain way. And so the campaign is all about how you feel in the moment. And I feel that at this particular time where everyone has got a little bit of a sense of inner reflection and asking questions about the future and what’s important to you was a well-timed kind of message.

James Cooper:
And it’s worked really, really well for them. And they did a display suite. They probably didn’t need it, but it’s just been, like we’ve basically generated leads through video, mainly on Facebook. We have lots of cool video content and the beach, the views, the surfing, the lifestyle, the mindset is kind of what dominated the campaign. And then we just had really beautiful representation of the product, and that worked. And so that’s the most recent example of a campaign that I’ve just absolutely loved and just been really proud to produce, because we’re helping someone like Paul tell the story of his own passion, and that’s cool. If I could afford one, I’d buy one.

Anthony Denman:
Well, I kind of just say that, you’re right. I did like that campaign. I lived there actually.

James Cooper:
Oh you did?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, I lived there for about 18 months. I lived on the top of the hill on Hill Street, overlooking D-Bar. As soon as I saw that campaign, I got it like, and I think that… And that’s in a way that exactly what we were talking about before. It’s so easy just to pick a salient feature and leverage that as an identity, but to go deeper, and you’re talking to a surfer who prides himself on flow & power…

James Cooper:
I love it. Yeah. And I mean, if it is new. I’d be like, who’s going to buy here? Surfers are going to buy here. Flow is something that surf is getting, right? They understand and you understand. Like, you’ll have good days. I’m sure you have days where you’re surfing really well, and you’re like, “Man, this is it. I’m surfing so well today.” And then you’ll have other days where you’re like, “I’m just not, I’m not surfing so well.” So, when you’re surfing well, you’re flowing, and that’s the kind of idea. And in life when things are going well, when things are in balance, you’re in a flow state. And that’s what that campaign’s about.

Anthony Denman:
Beautiful, lovely work. We’ll be sure to feature that in the show notes. So you had any… I’m sure you have. If you don’t want to talk to them specifically, I understand, but have there been any lessons that you’ve learned from projects that didn’t go so well.

James Cooper:
Yeah, a lot. The harder lessons are obviously, sometimes when you win a pitch or get appointed on a project and then you lose it halfway through, I think they’re the worst. It absolutely sucks. And there’s various different reasons why that happens. But I think that one of the greatest lessons that I’ve had is that particularly on the creative side, it’s a little bit to a lesser extent on the media side, but on the creative side, you have to have some sort of simpatico on values and what you stand for and what you want to do. On the creative, creative business isn’t massive. And the clients that we’ve had we’ve had for a long time, but those clients, we have a deep understanding of their business and what they stand for and what they want to do. And I’ve always said, I’d rather have five clients and do all their work, and give over and above to five clients than I would do one project for 20 clients.

James Cooper:
I really value relationships, ultimately. I like doing stuff with people and understanding their business and seeing if there’s more that we can offer than just sort of simply providing a creative service to a company. The Pointcorp guys up in Queensland, a client we’ve had a relationship for a long time. And we did a couple of great projects with them. We won the UDIA Marketing Excellence Award in Queensland. They really trusted us. And, I just said to Chris and Paul, one day, listen, “I just don’t think your corporate brands up scratch. I’m going to just redesign it for you.” And we just went and did that for them, because I was like, you guys are doing such amazing things. You need a better brand to support that. And just giving that extra little bit, and being interested in their business is really what appeals to me. So yeah, I mean, it’s harder with the bigger organizations, they like where they have bigger corporate structures to get in and build that connection.

James Cooper:
The other thing is they don’t really need our full skillset all the time as much because those engines, their own marketing teams do a lot of the work on positioning and research and all that sort of thing. That said, they’re also much more risk averse. So they tend to do more conservative work. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. They don’t have to take risks because they’ve got brands that support their proposition in market or a slightly more conservative approach. So I think that having a relationship where you really kind of start out to want to understand what someone’s doing with their business and what they value and having some simpatico on that level is probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned in terms of client selection. And I do say client selection because those, they are clients that you have come and then they’ll go, right?

James Cooper:
And you learn from that process and you say, “Okay, well, what is it that I would in terms of an ideal client?” And I think that when you find those ideal clients, you really know, and you put the extra miles into them and into the relationship to really, really make them work. And one of the things I’ve prided myself on at Metropolis over the years, is we have had lots of long lasting client relationships. And by virtue of the fact that we have a media business where, probably 60% of our revenue is contracted revenue. We have to be in it for the long haul. And when we’re getting into technology and lead gen and all that sort of stuff, like we’re in there with the sales teams, we’ve got to know their businesses pretty intimately, and we’ve got to get involved with them. And so, you want to work with people that inspire you and so that’s what my main thing is, is having good relationships with people that share the same values is really important.

Anthony Denman:
How are you finding, and sorry, we’re almost done now, mate. This has been fantastic. I hope everybody finds that it’s interesting is as I have. I’m sure they will. It’s been amazing. Just for this cycle. I mean, you touched on it before, cycles, the depth, if anything changes at the debt duration and calls. And God, this has been the longest, the deepest and had the most amount of causes. That’s for sure.

James Cooper:
Yeah. It’s been tough since. I mean, look, we did come off a pretty heady situation in 2015, 2016 and even 2017. It was pretty to use the most overused word of the entire COVID pandemic, unprecedented. It was an unprecedented time, like the amount of apartments that were selling and how they were just selling out and all that sort of stuff. I almost feel like as a marketer, we weren’t really that, or as important during that time. We’re probably more important now. So we did come off that, but then it stopped. Ever since this APA restrictions on overseas buyers, changes to investment lending, banks tightening up the criteria, then the credit crunch, then the election, and then all the speculation around the election and what were they going to do? And are they going to remove negative gearing and people hate uncertainty, right? They really hate it.

James Cooper:
So there’s been a huge amount of uncertainty affecting the property market, particularly the off the plan market, both in housing and in apartments. And I don’t think also the media landscape has helped hugely. Well, I do have the benefit of having relationships with senior people at the media companies. And I saw some headlines at one point. I saw a headline in the AFR that was just clearly clickbait, right? And it was like, “Property market might drop as much as 50%,” says some Morgan Stanley, analyst, who’s trying to grab a headline. What a lot of shit! And that stuff was just not helpful. And the media rode it down and then they rode it back up. And it’s just all this sensational swinging from side to side. I think one of the people that I’ve really enjoyed reading throughout this whole process is Chris Joy in the AFR. I think he calls the market very accurately. I think he’s got a certain amount of profile and ego that comes with being able to do that.

James Cooper:
He’s a very smart guy, but he has been spot on, and contrary to what he has been calling, there’s been a lot of sensational crap around that that has not been helpful. It’s not useful information, but this is the world we live in, right? Everyone’s fighting for eyeballs, all the media companies and people know that sensation is what wins those eyeballs. And, they know that that’s the stuff that then gets shared through social channels, and what’s even scarier now, is that now the social channels are sort of saying, well, we might have to pay those news outlets for distributing content and the algorithms of those social channels are geared towards providing people more and more sensational stuff. I wonder if it’s actually just going to be a means of them saying, well, the more sensational stuff we write, the more we get paid. And so you don’t then get journalism that is kind of balanced.

James Cooper:
You don’t get a point of view that’s equal and sort of fairly thought through. And that’s quite disappointing, because it’s hard to trust those institutional information sources that we have relied on over the years to give us good information about the market and to educate buyers as well about what’s really happening as it just becomes the game of sensation.

Anthony Denman:
Undeniably the proof is in the pudding. And you would have noticed my head nearly fell off then just a nodding in absolute approval of what you just said. I’m gone through about five TVs in the last… Throwing half empty wine bottles at the TV.

James Cooper:
Don’t waste half a bottle of wine.

Anthony Denman:
Certainly not a good drop of Sangiovese. That’s for sure.

James Cooper:
That’ll do me.

Anthony Denman:
Yes I know it will. Well, I’ll just finish that off by saying that, yeah the proof’s in the pudding and what you did at Rainbow Bay there and with that project called flow, and we’re just launched one at Bellevue Hill and the inquirie’s through the roof and the market, I think. It hasn’t gone backwards, in fact it’s improved. It’s just the fundamentals of the property market in Australia really still very strong.

James Cooper:
Agreed.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. And it’s like you said, right at the very beginning. It’s everyone’s most valuable commodity.

James Cooper:
Totally. Yeah. It’s important for us. It’s a big employment sector, regardless. I think at one point during the big boom, construction and property was like the number one employer. And given that our tourism markets had a big punch and the hit at the moment. Never as property in construction will be so important. And I think our recovery will be mining lead, but I still think that property and construction, it’s going to be so vital to sort of our ability to recover from COVID pandemic. I think it’s a great place to be working here.

Anthony Denman:
I think before COVID we had a good eight to 10 years of good times ahead. I think now it’s probably just going to be eight to 12.

James Cooper:
Let’s hope so. One of the things I think, in the short-term, I think migration is going to have an impact. Because I think a lot of particularly apartment sales and to an extent the land sales are driven by the fact that we’ve had between 200 and 300,000 people positive net migration, most of which were kind of white collar, qualified, educated people coming into the country, getting ready to pay tax, and buy a house and participate in the economy and work hard, put their kids into school and do all that sort of stuff. So I think that’s going to have a short-term impact. But longer term like you said. I was amazed during the COVID thing to read that CommBank is actually the number one rated bank in the world for its financial stability. Thanks very much, and actually of the four banks are all in the top 10 banks in the world for rating for financial stability.

James Cooper:
Thanks very much, who – APRA had a big impact on your business and my business, but maybe actually what they’ve done is do us a huge favor in the longer term. So hats off to the people that had that level of foresight. I certainly didn’t, I was whinging about the fact that they stopped the amount of people and projects coming to market. But listen, one thing Ant that I did want to say is that during this downturn or the lockdown, one of the things I have been doing is listening to quite a few podcasts. I was not a podcast listener before, and I really admire what you’re doing here, because I think it’s a great way to learn. I think I love learning from experience and other people’s experience, and it’s almost like you get the opportunity to join a conversation. So thank you. Thanks for having me and thanks for doing this because it’s a really good initiative for our industry.

James Cooper:
And I think that, there needs to be more of this forward thinking kind of content that’s shared and opinions that is shared and openness amongst people in our industry, because it really only is going to contribute to getting and being better. And as I said, I really enjoy, I probably won’t listen to this because I don’t love the sound of my own voice as much as it probably comes across in this podcast, but I certainly… I have listened to some of the other interviews and I think what you’re doing is great, man. Hats off to you and I think it’s a great thing that you’re in a way giving back after, for a person who’s been working in industry for a long time. So respect to you.

Anthony Denman:
Thanks man. That’s exactly why I’m doing it. So I really appreciate you mentioning that. Listen, if anybody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

James Cooper:
Well, you can just ring up Metropolis, metropolis.com.au. I’m on LinkedIn. But I’m not amazing at responding to, or being all over LinkedIn. But LinkedIn, I’m on. And then if you just Google James Cooper at Metropolis. I’m pretty sure it comes up pretty overly glossed up black and white photo.

Anthony Denman:
Oh no. . Like I said before…

James Cooper:
I’ve really got to downplay that photo, but-

Anthony Denman:
Can I just tell you to all our listeners, that James is as handsome in real life as he is in those photos.

James Cooper:
Thanks so much, Ant, that’s made my day

Anthony Denman:
That’s awesome, man. Thanks a lot. I look forward to catching up and having a beer when the things settle down.

James Cooper:
Thanks mate. Awesome. Yes. Thank you.