redefines its creative edge - 30th December 2003
Age asked eight movers and shakers in the Melbourne
advertising industry what their favourite moments
were in 2003 and what we can look forward to in
What was your favourite advertising campaign of
Chalke: To my eye, the best ads were the ones
that took a fresh look at life, didn't take themselves
seriously and blew a raspberry at the purse-lipped
and politically correct.
favourites were the Hahn Light "bomb in the
spa" ad, the "Five Cougars, thanks"
and the Qantas-Wallabies "No, the other left"
Sintras: Heineken's work for the Rugby World Cup
- witty and well crafted.
Scott: That's easy - the Hahn Light ad where the
guy jumps into the spa. It's so simple and reflects
exactly how the target audience thinks and feels.
That is, both men and women.
Howcroft: Apart from our own stuff, my favourite
campaigns were the Cougar Bourbon "Five Cougars,
thanks" and the Carlton Stirling "beer-lovers
Mitchell: The TXU ads for both gas and electricity.
Welsh: The best individual commercial this year
would have to be the Tooheys "Quest"
spot, which features a tongue on a mission to
find a bottle of Tooheys. It won Gold at this
year's award advertising ceremony and, by all
accounts, is earning gold at the tills.
What campaign do you think was the most successful/effective?
Neal: McDonald's campaign for the salad-plus range,
which has given the brand new life and consumer
relevance and grown the business after many years
of static growth.
The Campaign Palace's Red Meat campaign with the
dancing butchers and the old rock'n'rollers. According
to the Advertising Federation's effectiveness
awards, it has contributed to the $1 billion growth
in the red meat market. And it's highly entertaining
Sintras is chief operating officer of media-buying
company Starcom Media and president of the Media
Federation of Australia.
Howcroft is managing director of Melbourne agency
Brandhouse Arnold and Victorian chairman of the
Advertising Federation of Australia.
Chalke is chief researcher at social research
Crothers is general manager of content and publishing
at the Australian Consumers Association.
Mitchell is the founder of Melbourne media-buying
company Mitchell & Partners.
Neal is the Melbourne managing director of media-buying
company Carat Australia.
Scott is managing director of creative agency
FCB in Melbourne.
Welsh is creative director of M&C Saatchi
There have been many, but some of our highest-profile
successes would have to be the integrated campaigns
for Black & Decker and Masterfoods in The
Block, and for the Sony Group in Big Brother 3
and Australian Idol.
The public launch of insurer Promina. It has been
a stockmarket tearaway.
What is the biggest issue facing the advertising
Creatively, the biggest issue remains convincing
advertisers that creativity sells. There is a
slavish belief in needing to appeal to the "lowest
common denominator". People watch TV to be
entertained, inspired and informed, and yet most
commercials are dull, repetitive and mindless.
Doesn't make much sense, does it?
Realising that its reason for being is to give
clients a positive return on investment and with
business growth solutions. Too many ad agencies
are still slaves to creativity without the accountability.
Finding the fine line between polite invisibility
and objectionable exhibitionism. We are now totally
media literate and more than capable of filtering
out the torrents of exhortations, pleas, enticements,
inducements and promises that deluge our every
waking moment. The challenge is to get noticed,
without pushing too hard to gain attention and
so risk alienating the audience.
The quantification of effectiveness/business results
created by advertising agencies and the negotiation
of appropriate compensation that rewards this
The critical issue our business is facing is the
rise and rise of the power of the procurement
manager in the marketing relationship. The basis
of the discussions many of us are having is the
desire for the procurement people to treat our
business as a cost and to ignore the power and
the importance of our business and its role in
the success of their business.
The issues will be the same as the last two years:
retention of revenue is crucial, so that the key
to our industry can be maintained - people (our
main asset). A reduction in revenue for any agency
will put pressure on staffing levels, as most
agencies are running their operating costs at
a bare minimum already.
Do any bad campaigns or negative trends from 2003
stick out in your mind?
Crothers: Some really puerile car advertisements
still encouraging bad behaviour, and new adverts
that are pathetic responses to previous criticisms.
There's been a somewhat defensive approach to
marketing investment over the last few years,
with a much lower level of new product activity
and line extensions.
The growing number of "international"
or "regional" ads. You know the ones
I mean: where the talent doesn't look quite Australian,
the light doesn't look quite Australian and the
Aussie voices don't quite sync with the lips,
and the whole thing ends up as bland as an airline
What do you think the overriding themes of the
local industry will be in 2004?
Australian content could be a victim of the trade
with the United States.
Much of 2003 was cloaked in an aura of trepidation
and caution. Australia's CFOs managed to use buzzwords
like SARS, the drought, the Global Economy, Bali,
the War in Iraq, the low dollar, the high dollar,
to constrain creativity and initiative. Hopefully
a robust economy and re-emerging business confidence
will give advertisers and their agencies permission
to experiment and innovate again.
We're all just hoping the media growth forecast
by most commentators actually occurs. Many of
us have a suspicion that marketers are beginning
to have renewed faith in the ability of advertising
to grow demand, create sales and maintain/grow
We need to stop acting like a cottage industry
and respect that clients entrust us with significant
amounts of money to get them results. Both the
creative and media sides of our business are too
caught up in process and not outcomes.
A move to involvement and engagement with the
media to complement straight advertising.
How is the Melbourne industry faring? Are we falling
behind Sydney? What are our strengths?
I think Melbourne will have a huge year in 2004
creatively, because there's been a lot of investment
in creative talent in Melbourne agencies over
the past two years. It will be the year where
this investment matures and the creative recognition
will follow. Melbourne will most certainly be
back on the map creatively and as an advertising
The creative credentials of a city are being more
and more recognised as the core driver to economic
success. Melbourne has a wonderful creative community.
Our comedy, film, production and advertising is
highly creative and many people from Melbourne
excel in the advertising business. We need to
celebrate this fact and push very hard the creative
capabilities of our city.
The Melbourne advertising industry is booming.
Its main strength is the long history of strong
companies based here.
On the creative side, there does appear to be
a lot of similarity in the way agencies are positioning
themselves in Melbourne, whereas Sydney agencies
seem better differentiated. On the media agency
side, most talk about insights and strategy, but
in reality we are still heavily focused on the
functional side of planning and buying. Many media
agencies are still caught in the spiral of chasing
their growth through billings rather than the
bottom line, and that's why so many of them find
it difficult to make money.
and their agencies tend to have a longer tenure
together in Melbourne, which is caused through
the depth of relationships that exist. The effect
of this is that we have far less new business
activity here than in Sydney, where clients tend
to review more often.
I think it's a bit sad that you're asking that
question, really. After all, Melbourne is home
to the only advertising agency in Australia to
make the Gunn World Top 50 creative agencies (M&C
Saatchi). This year Clemenger Melbourne appointed
Mike O'Sullivan, arguably New Zealand's most awarded
creative as its creative director. I'd say Melbourne
was looking pretty good.
No one can deny that the financial centre of gravity
of Australian advertising has continued to shift
towards "Sin City", and it's unlikely
this will be reversed. However, Melbourne has
other strengths which, if harnessed, could create
the foundation of a mini-renaissance.
of Melbourne's big strengths is that it isn't
Sydney. Sydney's power, glitz and corporate style
is contrasted by Melbourne's understated, thoughtful