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Deep Dive 8 Dec 2021 - 6 min read

Mi3’s Top 10 contributors of 2021: 'Tit cricket', CEOs and Corporate Affairs, millennials and leadership, owned media’s rise, Zoom will eat the young

By Paul McIntyre, Brendan Coyne & Sam Buckingham-Jones
Mi3's Top Contributor articles for 2021

Samsung's Hayley Walton, Australia Post's Amber Collins, The Brand Institute's Karl Treacher and Sonder's Jonathan Hopkins.

It was an eclectic mix of writing from industry contributors that made the most-read list of 2021. The Arnott’s Group’s Kate Wright unpacked what she learned on maternity leave during Covid - sans social media - while Australia Post CMO Amber Collins reflected on the heady years of “tit cricket” and booze in 1990s London advertising. Sonder’s Jonathan Hopkins covered the new revenue streams for brands from their owned media channels, Anna Whitlam declared corporate affairs was back for CEOs and The Brand Institute’s Karl Treacher took a jab or two at Simon Sinek devotees. These are the op-eds, market voices and contributor pieces that the industry read. Jargon, by and large, was out and genuine, sometimes enlightening, perspectives and observations were in.

10. 

The fastest growing division in Amazon is not its e-commerce sales, or its services like Prime, but their media sales division.

Jonathan Hopkins - co-founding partner, Sonder

 

Brands as media owners on the rise: Why Telstra, Woolworths and Commbank are driving new growth from owned channels as CMO’s land Chief Growth Officer remits

Sonder unlocks owned media revenue streams for brands that don’t even realise they have them. Co-founding partner Jonathan Hopkins made this point repeatedly in 2021: The size of the prize is significant. The average annual revenue for a large Australian business with physical and digital media assets is $82 million. When you’re using numbers like that, it gets attention.

9.

On my first day, I couldn’t contain my excitement, I ran to the notice board to look for my roster. There it was: Michele O’Neill. “Female Camera Man”. A gentle request to change it to Camerawoman was rejected. I was literally trapped between two worlds.

Michele O’Neill – Director of Powered Enterprise, Nine

 

Nine’s first ‘female cameraman’ reflects on Kerry Packer and progress

Michele O’Neill has seen Nine from the inside out, starting in the late 1970s as a 20-year-old when Kerry Packer was the Big Boss. “I use capitals because he was a capitals kind of man, especially when he was swearing,” she wrote for Mi3’s International Women’s Day special edition. She could tell some stories, and sadly she was limited in words in this instance. There’s more there, but this is an eye-opening start.

8. 

For decades ‘thought-leadership’ has been an abused concept. No, not everyone can be a thought leader.

Karl Treacher - CEO, The Brand Institute

 

Intelligent marketers avoid Simon Sinek quotes and ‘meaningless conceptual garbage like we care about you.’

In April 2021, Karl Treacher wrote that 2021 would be “a year of reckoning”. Arguably, he was right on the money. Success came to those that took a meat cleaver to old media plans and focused on practical customer experience benefits. Deeds, not words, was a worthwhile catch-cry.

7. 

Say what you will about Millennials and Gen Z, but this cohort taught me more about how to be a leader than they will ever get the credit for.

Hayley Walton - Head of Brand Marketing, Samsung

 

Samsung Head of Brand Marketing: ‘Say what you want about Millennials and Gen Z – they taught me how to lead well in a crisis’

Mi3’s Covid: One year on series was a way to help the industry reflect on the era-shaping event that was Covid in 2020. It continued into 2021, but in April 2021, we couldn’t know that. Still, Hayley Walton’s reflection on how she came to understand Millennials and Gen Z, and what those oft-maligned generations taught her about leadership, moved the needle in readership.

6. 

Hot channels rarely equate to valuable channels. The super hot audio platform Clubhouse is already slowing. Anyone who remembers MySpace, Google+ or Vine knows new is fun but not always effective.

Jonathan Hopkins - Co-Founder, Sonder

 

2021’s most valuable brand-owned media channel might surprise you (hint: it’s not social or the web)

EDMs are the most valuable media channel brands have, and they often don’t value it as highly as they should, Jonathan Hopkins from Sonder argued. In the company’s owned media pool in July this year, the Email Solus was valued at $187,000 – it’s scalable, flexible, targeted and brand safe. Just make sure it complies with privacy regulations and isn’t overdone.

5. 

And whilst up feeding in the middle of the night, I would look to my social media channels for support…instead I was bombarded with well-intentioned influencers telling me to seize the day or make the most of this ‘opportunity.’ Opportunity?! I was terrified!

Kate Wright - Marketing Manager, The Arnott’s Group

 

A baby, a toddler and no village – Arnott’s marketing manager Kate Wright on deleting social media, surviving and new leadership

When Kate Wright prepared for the birth of her second child, the believed it would be idyllic: Friends, family, coffee, fun parents groups. It was early 2020, and – spoiler alert – it wasn’t that easy. In fact, it was downright terrifying. For our Covid: One year on series, Wright wrote about what she learned in the pits of late nights, no sleep and few chances to stay in touch with the latest news in marketing. Another spoiler, it wasn’t how to do cookieless targeting – it was empathy and decisiveness.

4. 

Clients are increasingly focused on in-housing and data; fit-for-format content production; transforming the big idea; innovating with emerging technologies; supporting audiences through always-on content; personalising platforms for ecommerce and building virtual events and trade shows.

Michel de Rijk – CEO, APAC, S4 Capital

 

S4 Capital chief: ‘Second reawakening of digital’ needs a new creative-data culture

Michel de Rijk, S4 Capital’s APAC CEO, says he learned three things in Covid (another part of our Covid: One year on series): there needs to be a balance between work and exercise, being in the office is tremendously valuable, and holidays are more than just travelling somewhere aka breaks are important. These three points, along with a shopping list of key digital and creative learnings around brand virtualisation, data and transformation, make this a genuine deep piece to digest.

 

3. 

My boss thought nothing of playing 'tit cricket' with me. When I was least expecting it, he’d reach out; and depending on where his hand landed on my breast he would call out 'four!' or ‘six!’

Amber Collins - CMO, Australia Post

 

From boss ‘tit cricket’ to ‘enlightenment’ in twenty years

1990s adland in London was “the most fun you could have with your clothes on”, Amber Collins wrote. It was a wild time. We put “tit cricket” in the headline because… why wouldn’t you? It is just so unbelievable, 20 years on, that this was our most-read International Women’s Day Special Edition story. While we’re not yet at total equality and diversity, this piece illustrates how far the industry has come.

2. 

There has been a simultaneous shift in what organisations need from their corporate affairs leaders as the whirlwind changes forced by the pandemic have exposed businesses’ corporate affairs structures and procedures to a slew of complex new requirements.

Anna Whitlam – Founder & MD, Anna Whitlam People

 

Five things every CEO needs in their corporate affairs director

Anna Whitlam condenses a veritable book about corporate affairs into five key points. Australian execs attribute 58 per cent of their company’s market value to reputation – and so investing in a good corporate affairs team is worthwhile. Judgment, Business and financial smarts, high EQ, resourcefulness and resilience, and calm, rational thinking are key. This is a handy guide for both brands hiring for this role and individuals working in this space.

1. 

The one I see people refer to most is how 'productive' we proved working from home is. If by productive you mean 'efficient', I agree… If by productive you mean ‘effective’, I disagree.

Matt Rowley – CEO, Pedestrian Group

 

Remote working and Zoom drinks will destroy young talent’s best, formative years

This piece made both the top 20 most-read list for media and agencies and for contributor articles. The industry engaged, debated and responded to concerns execs had about how Covid was impacting young talent – and for good reason. It was part of the Covid: One year on series and was its most-read piece. Smart thinking, vulnerability, and industry self-reflection – this is what Mi3 wants to provoke. If a reader doesn’t agree with something: Good. A respectful debate starts one constructive comment at a time. Pedestrian Group’s Matt Rowley put his finger on the pulse, arguing that working from home could have greater flow on effects on younger employees than we realise. In 10, 15 years, what will they reflect on as formative? It is worth questioning.

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