Part One: Aldi has been one of the advertising industry darlings for a decade with its snappy, sometimes witty and mostly engaging ad campaigns - that’s rare for most modern advertisers, let alone a high-volume, value-obsessed supermarket chain. Marketing Director Mark Richardson, in a rare media interview, is brutally pragmatic about creativity – it works and it beats bigger rivals, Coles and Woolworths, by up to 50 per cent on key advertising-influenced brand metrics and, critically, it drives people into stores. So Aldi keeps doing creativity. And to boot, it delegates and entrusts the task entirely to its creative partner, BMF.
The founder of Noma, the world’s best restaurant, hired the man behind the $700m MasterChef juggernaut – and hand-picked by Elizabeth Murdoch to run Shine360 – to scale his world renowned Copenhagen fine dining establishment and brand. But René Redzepi and Australian expat Ben Liebmann didn't want to take the same TV show, steak knife and pans approach as proven TV cooking formats, nor the path trodden by the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Instead scale would come through 'restrained creativity'. The number crunchers shook their heads. Liebmann delivered the pop-up sensation, Noma Sydney – which sold out 5,500 seats in three minutes. The team renegotiated the commercial contracts that underpin fine dining’s wafer thin margins, launched spin-off – but entirely different – restaurants with Noma’s top talent. And Noma is about to launch its first series via a global streaming platform, with a slate to follow. Just as it starts, Liebmann’s leaving, heading back to Sydney without a gig yet.
In 2018 Australian carmakers were collectively rattled. The consumer and competition regulator, the ACCC, dropped a bombshell on the auto industry in the form of the biggest mandatory product recall ever in Australia – 4.1 million faulty and potentially deadly Takata airbags in more than 3 million vehicles had to be replaced. The problem? Car owners were apathetic and entirely disinterested. Here’s how 23 car brands joined forces to head-off hefty ACCC penalties and deployed a media strategy that got spooked automakers to a 99.9% success rate. And a happy ACCC.
NRMA Insurance was facing material challenges when IAG CMO Brent Smart returned from New York and appointed Accenture’s The Monkeys, without a pitch, in an early, Australian text book example around the business impact of investing long-term in brand. They were unwaivering from the get-go about ending M&C Saatchi’s “Mr Confidence” and returning to “HELP” in late 2017, according to a redacted Effie submission seen by Mi3. A series of brand-led campaigns took out the Advertising Council’s Grand Effie Award last month for returning the ailing insurance company to category-leading growth. But just how bad were things at NRMA Insurance, and how and why did it return to a 20-year-old idea? Smart and The Monkeys’ CEO Mark Green and Chief Strategy Officer Fabio Buresti get brutally honest.
Advertising legends Faie Davis and Sarah Barclay have been inducted to the AWARD Advertising Hall of Fame, the first two women ever to have made the list. Even an agency – The Campaign Palace – was inducted before a woman made the hallowed halls. Joining them on the list of greats is Warren Brown, founder of BMF. The three have stories to tell spanning six decades, from co-creating Singapore Girl and Not Happy Jan, unleashing tampon ads with blood, not blue liquid, to winning the AFL account when the boss told them not to bother trying – and entering the Australian vernacular with the results. Plus how unleashing the oldest toad in the pond stunk out a Levi's shoot, but led to a beautiful friendship with Brad Pitt.
IAG CMO Brent Smart is one of the more outspoken blue chip marketers arguing distinctive creativity and brand building delivers competitive advantage but is underutilised by most industry sectors as a business “differentiator and growth accelerant”. Now he's about to hit crunch time leading an NRMA start-up spurning the traditional digital-first challenger strategy chasing customer acquisition via tactical, performance marketing and tech-based customer experience management. Instead he’s building a creatively-led, distinctive digital brand asset from the get-go in a new “hybrid” start-up for the NRMA business. His critics will be watching – intently.
The definition of what counts as personal information is set to change in Australia, with online identifiers even down to geolocation under review, alongside use of loyalty and credit card data. The upshot is that the ad industry has to change everything it has done to date. The rules about how consent is gained are also under the microscope – and it looks like Australia is going to go harder than GDPR. The risks are large; those that flout incoming law changes may find themselves open to class actions as well as regulatory punishment. Lauren Solomon, CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre, former deputy New South Wales Privacy Commissioner Anna Johnston, Peter Leonard, professor of practice at UNSW's Business School, and Guardian MD, Dan Stinton unpack what’s coming down the track for brands, publishers, tech platforms and the media supply chain.
Over the past decade, advertisers have been paying billions more than they needed to due to anticompetitive actions taken by Google that inflated advertising costs, Attorneys General for 16 US states believe. Demanding a jury trial in New York, unredacted details from the lawsuit are now public, including internal Google messages. The allegations are explosive.
The Marketing Academy has spoken with 10,000 marketers since Covid took hold. Far from being sidelined by digital transformation, CEO Sherilyn Shackell says the evidence suggests CMOs have emerged more powerful and closer to the c-suite with broader remits. But they are massively stretched – and their teams are still suffering the effects of Covid. Which makes a mockery of the term 'soft skills'. Leadership, wellbeing and professional development have never been so important, she suggests: "If you don't look after that stuff, you're shafted." But it's worse for agencies, says Shackell, which are suffering serious talent blood loss and a recruitment crisis – with another wave of in-housing about to hit.
Professor Mark Ritson was right all along: “90 per cent of marketers fail to brief agencies effectively, and their failures begin with a total lack of strategy.” The headline findings of the Better Briefs Project and its research spanning 1,700 marketers and agencies make for grim reading, with a third of ad budgets being wasted as a result of bad briefs. In Australia, the data shows 50 per cent of marketers have not been trained on how to write briefs, so half don't know what they are doing. Unless things improve, marketer tenures – and standing within boardrooms – will continue to decline. But there are some simple fixes, say Better Briefs co-founders Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler.
CommBank’s X15 Ventures unit is paving the ground for a massive stack of next gen services that effectively builds an opted-in walled garden for its 15 million retail and business customers, as the bank bids to compete with global tech giants inside its own expanding ecosystem. With a direct-to-customer mortgage play about to launch, it's also eyeing further e-commerce and shopping platforms. Managing Director Toby Norton-Smith told Mi3 there is much more to come from the unit with a billion dollars to spend.
While topping US$94 billion in revenues, Dell had been in a perpetual street fight on pricing. Margin and brand health metrics were sinking to dangerous levels. ANZ Marketing Director Arjun Deuskar had to fight tooth and nail, but convinced his bosses to go large on brand and a premium push. Along with MediaCom, Dell issued an open tender to Australia's publishers – and 150 of them piled into GroupM towers to pitch their ideas. Deuskar was blown away by the response. In the end, he said 10ViaCom CBS had the best proposition – and the results have been "phenomenal". Now marketing is getting all the plaudits – and board backing to go harder on brand investment.