Last year, the inaugural Mediaweek 100 created debate within the industry about people ranked too high, too low, people who shouldn’t be on it and others who missed out.
After the success of last year’s countdown, the list is expanding with the Agency 50, compiled and edited by Mediaweek’s Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham – who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2022 MFA Awards.
The Agency 50 will count down the top 50 most powerful media agency leadership and investment directors, considering factors such as the scale/size/billings of clients, influence to shape the future, and commercial value.
Hatched – CEO
Jack Byrne is the founder and CEO of Hatched, an independent media agency he established in 2013.
Byrne founded the agency after identifying the demand for a trustworthy, transparent agency that starred media people who treated their clients’ money like their own.
He opened Hatched’s first office in Melbourne. In August, the agency announced its expansion to Sydney, with Mike Wilson joining the executive leadership team and Simon Porter as head of retail.
Byrne leads a team of 60. They count Open Universities Australia, Mirvac, Bosch, AIA, Vision Super and Village Cinemas among their clients.
Back in June, Hatched announced introducing its Celebration Leave policy, created by the agency’s internal Belongings & Connections team.
The policy allows employees to work on a scheduled public holiday, if they choose, and substitute it for leave on an alternate workday.
For example, an employee could choose to work on Good Friday or Queen’s Birthday and instead take off Chinese New Year, Diwali, Hannukah or International Day against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination.
Aside from the agency, Byrne launched and co-founded the retail media platform, Zitcha with Troy Townsend in June.
Audience Precision – Founder and CEO
Haydon Bray is the global CEO of Audience Precision, which he established in 2014.
His career has seen him achieve many milestones, including becoming Australia’s youngest national media director with DMB&B before establishing Bray Media with his wife, Kerry, in 1989.
Bray Media carved a reputation for being an elite strategy-focused media agency, winning many blue-chip clients with billings of more than $250million.
Bray established the Media Federation of Australia and won a number of awards for strategy before he sold Bray Media to Carat in 1999 and served as its chairman until choosing to take some time out with his young family.He later returned to the industry to Audience Precision with Warner Music.
Under Bray’s leadership has continued to grow globally with offices in New York and London and worked with big clients – including R.M. Williams, Lyre’s Spirit Co. and RedEarth Energy Storage.
In July, the agency launched its proprietary end-to-end technology platform Precise360 – a suite of proprietary tools that achieve faster and more successful business outcomes for brands – which he and chief technology officer Jeremy Cath spent years developing and perfecting.
Involved Media – Managing director
Sarah Keith brought her background with the holding companies as she took to the helm of Paykel Media two years ago, before the agency’s rebrand to Invovled Media.
In July 2021, her role expanded to group managing director of Involved Media and its parent company, Active International Australia.
Under her leadership, Involved Media has seen plenty of growth. She leads a team of 30 staff; this year, the agency recorded revenue growth of 40%.
Involved Media has also signed on several clients over the past two years, including Hertz, NordicTrack, Chartered Accountants Australia, New Zealand, and Crayola.
Aside from business and clients, Keith and the agency have also shown community support by signing a three-year sponsorship deal with the Manly Mermaids.
She was previously the managing director of Publicis Media Exchange and 10’s head of revenue strategy.
Mindshare – CEO
Maria Grivas is taking on the CEO role at Mindshare Australia & New Zealand, taking over from Katie Rigg Smith.
Grivas joined the GroupM agency from IPG Mediabrands’ digitally led full-service performance agency, Reprise.
Her leadership experience and expert knowledge in data-led transformation in media and brand communications lend to Mindshare’s greater focus on commerce, transformation, tech, and expertise.
Grivas has led a team of 200 people across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth during her time at Reprise.
Before that, Grivas was the chief data and technology officer at UM Australia and spent more than a decade leading IPG Mediabrands’ digital and data approach.
During her time at Mediabrands, the agency was named Australia’s 5th Most Innovative Company, Media Network of the Year and Media Agency of the Year.
OMD – Head of trading
As head of trading, Marelle Salib focuses on product evolution and adding to OMD’s existing national bench strength in the omnichannel investment team.
She has more than 20 years of industry experience and has been an integral part of the OMD investment team for the past ten years.
Salib has successfully driven the investment product forward for OMD clients, delivering value and innovation and driving efficiencies. She has also played a key role in navigating complex audience changes for clients and building out their approach with media partners.
She ensures that OMD’s product and investment strategies evolve towards future-proofing our clients’ businesses and educating, nurturing and growing their talent to deliver excellence in execution.
Salib’s career with OMD has seen her work across a wide range of clients, QSR, retail, finance and FMCG, ensuring the teams deliver the best in market outcomes for their clients.
PHD – National head of trading
Joanna Barnes has been leading PHD as its national head of investment for the past three years. She joined the agency in 2014 as an investment director before being appointed head of Melbourne’s trading.
She has made significant impacts in several key areas of the business. Among them are attracting, mentoring and fostering new talent, staff retention and growth, driving new business and investment results across local and global brands, bringing together media partnerships, delivering transparent and first-class procurement, and third-party auditing outcomes for clients.
Barnes has worked with brands such as Unilever, Google, Volkswagen Group Australia, PepsiCo, Nestle and State Governments to deliver investment strategy, innovation, performance and growth.
She has been instrumental in new business wins over the past eight years and contributed significantly to the success and growth of the agency nationally.
With 20 years in the industry under her belt, Barnes has worked for the likes of Zenith, Mitchell & Partners, and Carat.
She is also committed to educating the next generation of media professionals and the broader media owner community on media negotiations and successful partnerships.
Dentsu – Chief trading officer
Michael Bass joined dentsu international as chief trading officer of APAC in May, following two years as chief investment officer of Amplifi ANZ, the Group’s investment unit.
As chief trading officer, Bass oversees all media investments across the APAC region, with key focus markets of Australia, India and China. He also leads group deals and commercial outcomes, working with the media supply chain, digital technology partners, and key internal stakeholders.
He is also accountable for developing and implementing the APAC trading strategy that works seamlessly with the Dentsu global commercial approach and supports its international objectives.
Bass has a deep understanding of commercial strategy and investment management.
Under his leadership, he led ANZ Amplifi through the Covid-19 pandemic and delivered all revenue KPIs. He achieved the top position for dentsu ANZ’s bi-annual staff check-in survey, measuring staff engagement, happiness, retention, etc.
OMD – Group trading director
As group trading director, Anastasia Nicholas leads the Sydney trading leadership team across many clients. Her remit spans all channels, driving value for her clients.
Her passion for out-of-home has seen her be a key leader in developing OMD’s tools and trading products for out-of-home.
Nicholas began her career at Starcom before moving to OMD in 2012, starting as a trading director.
Over the last 18 years, she has worked across various clients from entertainment, automotive, technology, and travel categories, with roles varying from investment, planning, and business management.
But her passion and commitment to trading have seen her focus her career in this department.
Mediacom Australia – National head of trading
Nick Thomas was appointed as chief investment officer of Mediacom Australia in May, a step up from his role as national head of investment.
Thomas has worked in the industry for the last 15 years. He is driven by bringing the right partners together to create ground-breaking work that produces actual results.
As a leader, he is responsible for leading MediaCom’s Marketplace team, which covers planning and buying across all channels.
He leads his team in connecting brilliant strategic platforms and data lead planning work to partners and focuses on bringing market-leading executions to life.
Thomas has been a critical driver in the MediaCom business for the last ten years and has been instrumental in crucial growth across its products, clients and people.
UM Australia – Head of trading
UM Australia’s head of trading, Andrew Murray, is a highly respected industry member with more than 18 years of experience behind him at the Mediabrands agency.
Murray, a quiet achiever in the industry, leads the company’s trading product, overseeing teams across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra.
His key driver in investment has always been the challenge of taking a client’s unique and bespoke requirements and working them through the planning, negotiations, and execution process.
He worked on some of Australia’s most prominent players in the market and most highly regarded pieces of business, including Kmart, Nestle, AMEX, the Australian Government and ING.
OMD – Chief investment officer
Melissa Hey leads the investment product across OMD and is part of the executive team.
With over 24 years of industry experience, 11 of those spent at OMD, Hey has focused on investment, using numbers to tell the story and dealing with facts.
She spearheads the leadership and delivery of its client’s investment strategy and value management. She always ensures that OMD is evolving its investment product and framework to meet the changing media landscape.
Hey ensures that the investment team leverages media value to meet our clients’ strategies and budgets at every opportunity.
She has strong media relationships at all levels and is known for being a fierce negotiator.
Hey has also been a part of key new business wins over the last five years, including Suncorp, Super Retail Group and NSW Government, and played a crucial role in helping retain Coles.
Lucy Formosa Morgan
Magna Australia – Managing director
Lucy Formosa Morgan heads Magna Australia as managing director, a role she stepped into in July following a brief stint as commercial operations director at Nova Entertainment.
She is responsible for leading and driving the trading strategy for the entire Mediabrands portfolio of agencies and clients.
Before Nova, she spent over a decade with PHD, first as chief investment officer before being appointed national managing director until 2021.
Formosa Morgan has 20 years of international and local experience across both agency and publisher side. She focuses on building and developing partnerships across the industry to make advertising work seamlessly for consumers, advertisers, and the media.
She is driving change in this area to evolve the trading frameworks required to deliver better client outcomes.
GroupM – National head of investment
Claire Butterworth leads GroupM as national head of investment, a position she has been in since January.
She oversees the investment and partnerships practice for its agencies and stewards the best access, additional added value, and first-to-market opportunities for clients across all channels.
Butterworth works with media partners to create great work for clients and guides her team’s growth and development to deliver outstanding work consistently.
She has more than 18 years of experience in the industry within the investment discipline and worked across all major categories, such as FMCG, telco, QSR, banking, insurance, entertainment and Government.
Her career has seen her previously work with the likes of MEC, UM Australia and OMD Australia.
Butterworth regularly uses her influential voice on important industry issues affecting advertisers and media.
Wavemaker – Chief investment officer
Philippa Noilea-Tani began her career with Wavemaker when she joined the agency in 2006 as a media assistant.
She has worked up in the company to her current position as chief investment officer.
Noelia-Tani has led the trading and investment strategy for more than $150 million in successful new business pitches for Wavemaker clients across Australia and helps marketers effectively navigate rapid changes in the media landscape.
In addition to her success in the industry, Noilea-Tani also gives back as a mental health advocate. She is a committee member of UnLtd’s Mentally Healthy, Never Not Creative, and Energx to improve our industry’s capacity to cope with and improve our levels of mental health.
Noelia-Tani is also a 2022 scholar of The Marketing Academy Australia.
Pearman Media – Managing director and founder
Dominic Pearman began his career in 1981 and has been at the forefront of the success of independent agencies.
With over 40 years of industry experience behind him, his background has seen him work for the likes of Leo Burnett, DMB&B and Luscombe & Partners.
In 1996, he launched Pearman Media which specialises in strategy, planning and buying advertising for more than 190 clients, including Aston Martin, The Fred Hollows Foundation, ADT Security and Atkins.
The agency has developed a wealth of experience across numerous industries: TV, online, print, radio, outdoor, magazines and cinema.
In addition to being an industry stalwart, Pearman is also the current IMAA’s leadership team chairman.
Nunn Media – Founder and director
Matthew Nunn founded his media strategy and buying agency, Nunn Media, in 2003.
Nunn has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and worked in sales for WIN NBN Television and Channel 9, as well as Carlon Media as a media director.
Under his leadership as managing director, the independent agency has had several big wins, including Bendigo Bank, GWM, Haval and GoTo Meeting. The agency has also dealt with over $400 million in billings in Australia and the US.
Among the agency’s other clients are the Australian Forest Products Association, Anker, the Harley Davidson dealership network in Australia, Tinder, Netgear, Amart, Carpet Court, Godfreys, and Aussie Broadband.
Nunn also sits on the board of Local Planet, a global network of local agencies fused together for international clients, and the agency is one of the larger shareholders in the organisation.
Last year the agency also acquired Alley Group, which won digital agency of the year in 2021 and 2022.
Joy – CEO
Simon Rush is a highly respected industry member with more than two decades of experience.
He established Joy in 2003, and the independent full-service agency is dedicated to recognising and releasing a brand’s potential in every aspect through holistic optimisation.
Under Rush’s leadership as principal of the agency, alongside Andrew Wynne, Joy has been a successful year.
Joy has had several new client engagements this year, including Brooks Running, LJ Hooker, and 4WD SupaCentre.
In March, Rush announced it had acquired Drum Agency, founded by Martin Patton.
The acquisition, which began in 2021, takes the integrated agency to over 50 people across brand, media, and creative services with a balance of blue-chip and emerging clients.
OMG – Chief investment officer
Kristian Kroon has been Omnicom Media Group’s chief investment officer for the past six years.
He is a passionate member of the advertising community and takes part in discussion panels about the future of the industry.
Kroon is focused on growth and delivering business-building solutions for Omnicom Media Group’s clients.
He also supports and advocates for diversity and inclusive leadership in high-performing teams.
Kroon has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. His career has seen him work for News International and Trinity Mirror in the UK.
He also worked at Fairfax Media before moving to Omnicom Media Group as its national agency sales and commercial partnerships director.
Avenue C – Managing partner
Pia Coyle stepped into managing partner of independent agency Avenue C in 2021.
She has 20 years of industry experience, having worked with the likes of Starcom and UM.
Coyle spent most of her career with Ikon Communications, working her way up from trading director until her last role with them as national head of investment.
As managing partner of Avenue C, Coyle has successfully led the agency’s high-performing trading team through challenging periods to emerge as a passionate, engaged and cohesive unit.
Their clients include GoDaddy, Harvest Snaps, Primo, Palmerbet, Superhero and Marley Spoon.
Coyle also devotes her time to helping the development of young professionals in the industry.
She mentors Avenue C’s junior team and outside of the business, hoping to foster the same passion for the industry, assisting with career development and emotional intelligence within the workplace.
Kaimera – Founder and CEO
Nick Behr founded the full-service independent media agency, Kaimera in 2016.
He has more than 20 years of industry experience in the UK and Australia. Behr has worked across companies such as The Media Shop and Zenith in London and MediaCom and Media Contacts in Sydney.
Behr was managing director at Vizeum from 2012 until 2016, when he left to launch Kaimera, which he built and developed to be transparent to deliver real results for its clients.
As CEO, the agency has grown in staff, billings, and clients, such as BritBox, Campos Coffee, Aston Martin, My Muscle Chef and more recently, Epson.
Behr is also a founding board member of the IMAA.
Affinity – Chief brand officer
Angela Smith joined AFFINITY in 2003 as a partner and chief strategy officer after CEO and founder Luke Brown established the agency the year before.
She is a well-respected leader in the industry and, in 2020, was appointed as chief brand officer of the independent agency. Her career experience has branched into scientific research, legal practice, and consultancy work.
With her leadership, the agency has grown by leaps and bounds with its offering and clients. And as a result, AFFINITY has also been recognised with slews of accolades over the years.
Throughout her career, she has worked strategically with brands including the Commonwealth Bank, TNT, Estee Lauder, Astra Zeneca, Bayer, One Steele, NT Tourist Commission, Lendlease and J&J.
More recently, Smith was among three industry leaders who joined the IMAA Leadership Team.
Alchemy One – Managing director
Alchemy One’s co-founder and managing director Joel Trethowan established the independent in 2014.
The agency exists to transform brands with radical media solutions that impact our world, working in partnership with their clients towards a shared vision to deliver unrivalled growth. Its current clients include Bank Australia, Square, Westfund Health Insurance, Vialto, Independent Living Assessment, QuiteLike, Australian Conservation Foundation and Biennale of Sydney.
Trethowan has more than 15 years of experience in the industry, and his career has seen him work at UM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Microsoft prior to co-founding Alchemy One.
Under his leadership, Alchemy One achieved B Corp certification making the agency one of the few media agencies globally to earn the designation. The agency is also part of only 4% of the 100,000 companies that have successfully completed the process.
Trethowan is also a board member of Comms Declare 4 Climate since 2021, and Alchemy One and Trethowan have played a key role in the Fossil Ad Ban campaign, aimed at banning all fossil fuel advertising in Australia.
The Media Store – Chief operations officer
Jacquie Alley is the director and chief operating officer at The Media Store.
During her 25 years with the independent agency, she rose through the ranks, starting as a strategy and insights manager before stepping into the head of people and culture.
The Media Store focuses on its client’s success by embracing curiosity, integrity, people, courage, transparency, collaboration, and possibilities.
Alley is also a qualified counsellor and human resource management practitioner passionate about fostering healthy relationships, high-performance teams, and business growth through honest, transparent and innovative solutions.
Alley is also an active member of the industry and member of the MFA’s People Committee.
She also sits on the IMAA’s Leadership Team. Alley is the chair of the industry body’s Diversity Council, which aims to educate and empower member agencies on the value of embracing a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Heart & Science – Managing director Sydney
Wendy Gower joined Hearts & Science in 2019, stepping into the role of managing director of the Omnicom Media Group agency.
With close to 30 years of experience in the industry, her career has seen her work with large global media agencies such as Initiative, Mediacom, UM, APN Outdoor and m2m Australia.
At Hearts and Science, Gower works across various categories such as auto, banking, telco and consumer electronics.
She oversees working with clients to solve their business challenges and ensuring the evolving capabilities within the agency are fit to lead our clients into the complex future.
Gower is focused on building highly collaborative, successful teams and creating an environment where teams can grow and thrive.
Outside the agency she is a mentor for young professionals within OMG and the industry.
Gower has also been involved with Be The Change, a cross-industry working group aimed at tackling casual misogyny in the communications industry.
Slingshot – CEO
Simon Rutherford has led Slingshot as CEO and partner since its establishment in 2009, alongside chief operating officer and partner Steve Douglas.
Rutherford is well-regarded in the industry and with clients and has an impressive track record of delivering innovative strategies for some of Australia’s biggest brands.
Some of the agency’s hot’s clients include: Universal Sony Home Entertainment, Hamilton The Musical, BlueScope, Australian Pork, 3M, five:am and Inspirations Paint.
With a career that spans three decades, his extensive experience in the industry has seen him work at Media Decisions and The Media Palace. In 2000, he joined Bellamy Hayden and became managing director before establishing Slingshot.
As a leader, he has endeavoured to provide a work culture that inspires his team and is an advocate for transparency in the Australian media industry.
Slingshot was also named 12th on the WRK+ Best Place to Work list for 2022. The agency was recognised for its Wellness Team, certified to provide mental health support, monthly well-being activities and an Employee Assistance Program for anonymous life coaching or counselling for employees and their families
The Speed Agency – Managing partner
Ian Perrin launched The Speed Agency in 2016, which was majority-owned by Clemenger BBDO, before becoming an independent full-service media agency in 2020.
The agency is driven by strategy, data analytics and performance media to solve client communications
Perrin’s career spans over 20 years, and he has worked with the likes of Mindshare, Naked Communications and Zenith.
Under his leadership as managing partner, Speed has seen plenty of client success over the last 18 months. Among their recent wins is Taco Bell, Betfair, Revive Financial, Duluxgroup, Carnival Cruise Lines, Archie Rose and Boody.
In an interview with Mediaweek, Perrin credited the agency’s growth to its focus on effectiveness and use of analytics and data.
Looking ahead, he said that the agency’s focus would be on growing its presence in Melbourne and working and collaborating with creative agencies.
Cam & Morris Byrant
Sparro – Partners and founders
Morris and Cameron Bryant founded Sparro in 2013, focusing on delivering their clients’ transparency, agility and value.
Before establishing the digital marketing agency, the brothers worked together at online appliance retailer The Winning Group.
Sparro has developed practical, valuable, memorable digital marketing strategies and campaigns across all paid and organic channels.
As founders and partners of the digital marketing agency, they manage more than $180 million of ad spend each year.
Under their leadership, Sparro has won several clients, including Webjet, Destination NSW, Catch, Domino’s, Temple & Webster, Estee Lauder, Industrie, Bing Lee, eToro, Showpo, MoneyMe, Australia for UNHCR and many more.
Last year, the independent digital agency acquired Jack Nimble as part of its strategic partnership to fill a gap in the market for data-led, social-first creative and media.
iProspect – Managing director
Marcelle Gomez has been leading iProspect Australia in Sydney as managing director since February, stepping up from her role as general manager of the dentsu group agency after joining in 2020.
She helped finalise and realise the local merger of Vizeum into the agency, moving from a pureplay digital performance business to a fully integrated end-to-end agency.
Gomez is a seasoned media professional with proven leadership and a trusted advisor to clients with 22 years of experience working across all aspects of agency leadership, client service, strategy and planning, and trading and investment.
She has created and led people initiatives that have helped transform the business, culminating in an employee value proposition articulating iProspect’s employee branding, supporting retention and talent attraction.
Under her leadership, the agency has brought on board several new accounts, including Polestar, Shopify and Channel 7, resulting in double-digit revenue growth. The agency team has also doubled in size to accommodate new organic growth.
Thinkerbell – CEO
Margie Reid stepped into the CEO role at Thinkerbell just four months after the independent agency launched in 2017.
She has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, with a background in OMD Australia, Carat and UM.
Reid also launched Decade of Action – or DOA – a consultancy focused on social purpose alongside Adam Ferrier and Ebony Gaylor.
She is an advocate for female representation in the industry. She is also an active member of The Aunties, which aims to inspire, protect, and champion women across creative industries.
Under her leadership, the agency has expanded with new hires and, earlier this year unveiled its plans to open an office in New Zealand in addition to its existing offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
Thinkerbell has succeeded with its clients Bupa, Binge, Flybuys, Repco, Farmers Union and The Australian Ballet.
Half Dome – Managing director and co-founder
Tom Frazer co-founded Half Dome with his brother Joe and Will Harms in 2017.
Frazer is a respected industry member and part of the IMAA’s leadership team. His industry experience includes ANZ and Timelio.
The independent agency aims to confidently empower its clients to navigate an increasingly fragmented and complicated digital landscape.
Half Dome works with their clients to understand their needs to create a powerfully simple strategy. The agency then leans on its network of complementary partners to build, manage, and deliver holistic and transformative online solutions.
The agency has had impressive wins, including Petstock, Mighty Craft, youtime, and new work for long-standing client Maurice Blackburn.
Under Frazer’s leadership, Half Dome has pushed the boundaries with progressive workplace initiatives and people strategy around flexibility.
The agency introduced unlimited paid annual leave, which allows team members to take however much paid leave they need to balance work and life throughout the year.
Half Dome’s people have contributed to the rollout of this initiative and the guidelines for success, so all can collectively contribute to a positive outcome.
This Is Flow – CEO and founder
Jimmy Hyett established his independent full-service media agency, This Flow, in 2015 and has been leading as its CEO.
The agency has a future-focused approach, combining innovation through science, proactive thinking through art and competitive advantage through value. With his team, Flow delivers both service and growth.
Success didn’t come overnight for Hyett. He has worked in the media industry across small and big companies, including PHD, Zenith, Hyland and MediaCom. He is also on the Media Federation of Australia’s board of directors.
Under Hyett’s leadership, This Flow has seen many new businesses over the past 12 months, including Carnival, King Gee/Hard Yakka, Riverina Dairy, and 1800 GOT JUNK. The agency has also been driving innovative data, technology, and positive impact solutions for clients such as Felix mobile.
This Is Flow has attracted and retained great talent with a generous profit-sharing scheme and continued investment in coaching, training, and development for employees, which fosters a brilliant work culture.
Zenith – CEO
Jason Tonelli was appointed as CEO of Zenith and will commence his new role in January 2023.
He joins the Publicis Groupe agency with more than 20 years of experience as a media, technology, and advertising specialist.
Tonelli is currently also the chief executive officer of digital agency Razorfish and chief product officer of Publicis Groupe Australia and New Zealand.
Tonelli has worked across many facets of media and advertising, from a digital marketing transformation agency to a trading desk and a creative business.
His focus is on driving, leading, and cultivating a culture where his team can do their best – across media solutions, strategic work and investment.
Tonelli is also an active participant in the Australian advertising industry and is a member of the Industry Advisory Board for the School of Marketing and Advertising at RMIT University in Victoria.
PHD – CEO
Mark Jarrett was promoted to CEO of PHD Group Australia in December 2019, stepping up from his role as managing director after almost four years.
He has over 20 years of industry experience in Australia and the UK, with OMD Australia and Manning Gottlieb OMD in London.
Under his leadership, PHD has been recognised with a slew of industry accolades for its workplace culture.
Jarrett’s background in communications planning background reflects a passion for understanding what motivates and drives people; linking that into compelling communications is a constant and compelling challenge.
His long media career has afforded him insight and experience across almost every major category, including alcohol, finance, FMCG, automotive, telecoms, travel, government, and quick service restaurants.
Last year, Jarrett joined the Media Federation of Australia as a board member.
Havas Group – CEO
Virginia Hyland joined Havas Media Group CEO in 2020 after the group acquired her independent agency, Hyland, which she founded in 2004.
She led her Hyland team to become one of the largest in the country, developing ideas for campaigns and using their experience across media, social and content. With this, the team delivered integrated campaigns that helped transform their clients’ businesses.
Since becoming the CEO at Havas, she has collaborated with the Havas Village agencies to win clients such as Tourism Fiji and Fiji Airways. Alongside Kia, Avis Budget, Destination NSW, COTY, TK Maxx, Baiada, Canteen, and Legacy.
Hyland is also a mentor to women in the industry and has been a board director of the Media Federation of Australia. She has also contributed to judging panels yearly for the past 15 years.
Starcom – CEO
Starcom CEO Nick Keenan is another highly respected leader who has brought together a revitalised Starcom.
Keenan has 23 years of experience growing national brands and managing international projects and operations while gaining experience in advertising, representing most of Australia’s blue-chip advertisers.
He has a great background with both agencies and clients. Keenan was previously CEO of Red Rooster and CrownLotto, as well as commercial director for CrownBet and, in the past, worked at WPP.
Keenan has also held senior positions at companies including Fairfax, News Limited, GroupM, Crown Resorts, Craveable Brands, and Publicis Groupe.
As a strategically focussed leader, Keenan has rebuilt brands and launched new ones across three key industries: advertising, quick service restaurants and gaming.
GroupM – Managing Partner
Seb Rennie was appointed as GroupM’s chief investment officer in Australia in 2021, following his three-year stint in the same role for the company’s branch in Toronto, Canada.
With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Rennie’s career has seen him work across international markets such as the UK, Canada, and Australia with companies such as Mediacom and MEC.
In Australia, he leads the investment and partnerships function, innovation and maximising the performance of the group’s media agencies.
The CIO and his team also deliver clients top media solutions and value in line with GroupM’s Responsible Investment framework.
During his time in Canada, he drove market-leading innovation, including introducing new investment management technologies.
Rennie also led the launch and growth of its addressable TV business Finecast and its out-of-home business, Kinetic.
Atomic 212 – Founder and chairman
Barry O’Brien OAM founded the independent media agency Atomic 212º in 2014. The mission of growing their clients’ businesses through more intelligent, faster, and accountable media services.
As chairman, O’Brien has led the agency to strong client success this year, including Freedom Kitchens and Price Attack. The agency has also made a successful footprint in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Darwin.
Over the years, the agency has worked with Lendlease, BHP, BMW and Bupa, Origin Energy, and the NSW Government.
Before establishing Atomic 212º, O’Brien was the chief sales officer for Network 10 up until 2013. He was previously the CEO of PHD Network from 2008 to 2012.
O’Brien was also the CEO and founding partner of Total Advertising Australia from 1991 to 2007.
MFA – CEO
As CEO of the Media Federation of Australia, Sophie Madden leads the peak body in representing media communication agencies to government, industry, media owners and the general public.
The MFA membership represents over 90% of all media agency-placed media billings in Australia.
Under her leadership, the MFA has also provided mentoring and educational opportunities such as NGEN and MFA5+. She also works alongside an impressive group of top industry leaders from across the leading media agencies.
Madden has more than 25 years of experience in the media and communication industry, from working as a media specialist at full-service communication agencies and independent media agencies to senior marketing roles in global FMCG and telco companies.
Her most recent role before joining the MFA was as head of marketing services for Kraft Australia New Zealand. Before that, she was the global head of media for Vodafone based in Europe.
Before relocating overseas, Madden also spent ten years working for Unilever as the Australasia Media Director.
Katie Rigg Smith
Mindshare – CEO
Katie Rigg-Smith leaves Mindshare’s CEO position with an incredible legacy after nine years in the role. She now steps into the role of WPP’s chief strategy officer of Australia and New Zealand.
Rigg-Smith started her career with Mindshare in 1999 and worked her way up the ladder, eventually becoming head of strategy in 2008 and national chief strategy officer in 2010.
She is known in the Australian media industry as a trailblazer, having welcomed three babies during her tenure as CEO. Rigg-Smith incorporated motherhood into her work world by bringing her newborn into an MFA board meeting.
Rigg-Smith devotes her time to mentoring young professionals coming up in the industry and regularly voices her thoughts and opinions on industry issues in debates, panels and talks.
Spark Foundry – CEO
Imogen Hewitt, CEO of Spark Foundry Australia and New Zealand, is a passionate and influential leader with more than 20 years of experience in the industry.
Her experience in media and creative agencies spans the Australian and Southeast Asian markets. She has held various media, digital, creative, brand and agency management positions. Hewitt has held leadership positions with Havas and Naked Communications.
She joined Spark Foundry as CEO in 2020, aligning the culture post-merger and modernising the agency’s product.
Under her leadership, the agency doubled in size while achieving staff happiness levels across all markets within two years.
Hewitt’s industry influence also extends to the Media Federation of Australia as a board member.
Wavemaker – CEO
Rounding the top 10 is the CEO of Wavemaker, Peter Vogel. He has more than 25 years of experience as a media and marketing professional across several international markets, with the past 14 years in Australia.
His career started with Audi in South Africa as a marketing manager before working at Ogilvy. In 1997 he established his own media strategy agency, Nota Bene, which he later sold at WPP.
Vogel joined GroupM agency MEC as CEO of South Africa in 2005 and has held several leadership positions in Asia and Australia. He has been at the helm of Wavemaker for almost five years and is an influential figure in the industry.
At Wavemaker, he leads from the top in nurturing a strong workplace culture that supports and empowers its people to grow professionally and personally.
Vogel also sits on the Media Federation of Australia’s board of directors.
IMAA – CEO
As CEO of the Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA), Sam Buchanan has been leading the charge in elevating the voice of independent agencies across the country.
Previously the GM, he stepped into the CEO role for the IMAA earlier this year. Before that, Buchanan had successful stints at McKenzie Partners, Fairfax Media, Hardie Grant Media and News Corp.
The IMAA has grown to more than 130 members since the industry body was established in February 2020.
Buchanan has been instrumental in providing daily support to independent agencies, facilitating the trade credit insurance deal for its members and providing educational programs and seminars.
Under Buchanan, the IMAA also launched its ‘Reflect’ Reconciliation Action Plan and an international inter-agency staff transfer program for members with global independent agency, thenetworkone.
UM Australia – CEO
Anathea Ruys joins the list, having made a significant impact as CEO of UM Australia, just over 18 months in the role following successful stints in Asia and North America.
Ruys set out three simple goals as the leader of UM Australia – to reduce ever-increasing workloads, offer employee well-being support, and retain talent with exciting career pathways – all of which she has delivered.
She has been integral to UM’s automation transformation under Mediabrands’ initiatives.
Ruys also introduced policies and programs to support the well-being of its people, including its Family Friendly Workplace certification. UM is the only agency in Australia to have achieved such accreditation.
Through her leadership, UM employees can develop their own personal manifesto – a “Strategic Dividend”. This articulates the investment that each UM-er contributes to the agency and value returned to each person, regardless of where they are in their career.
Ruys is also an active member of the industry community and is currently the industry lead representative on the United Nations’ global initiative, Unstereotype Alliance, a global UN Women program to eliminate stereotyping in advertising.
Laura Nice and Sian Whitnall
OMD – Joint managing directors
Laura Nice and Sian Whitnall were appointed as co-CEOs of OMD in November 2021. The duo share responsibilities; Nice oversees client partnerships as Whitnall drives the agency’s product innovation.
Together they have worked to deliver growth for their client’s businesses and opportunities for their people with 50 internal moves and 12 newly created roles.
In their ten months as co-CEOs, they have driven OMD’s success of being appointed the consolidated NSW Government account and retained the Coles Group account by creating a bespoke agency model with Omnicom Group – Smith St.
Nice joined OMD Sydney in 2008 before returning to the UK in 2014 to join Annalect in London as head of consultancy and development. She returned to OMD Sydney in 2019 as joint managing director with Kim Hamilton.
As a leader, Nice devotes part of her time to the industry by mentoring future leaders within OMD and the wider industry.
Whitnall first joined OMD Sydney as an interactive director in 2012. After a stint at Ikon Communications, she returned to OMD in 2017 as head of digital and was elevated to the role of chief digital officer in 2018.
Whitnall is passionate about making data and tech education accessible to all and has held industry body roles with IAB, AANA and the MFA. She also is a mentor within OMD and across the industry.
Initiative – CEO
Melissa Fein has been at the helm of Initiative Australia for the past five years. As CEO, she and her team across Australia have had plenty of success.
She has over 20 years of experience in the industry with previous stints at Viacom, Mindshare and 10.
As a leader, Fein oversees various aspects of the business, from commercials and media partner relationships to senior client stakeholder relationships and staff happiness.
Under her leadership, the Mediabrands agency has led the market with its people and culture initiatives, such as its reconciliation plan and mental health support.
In February, Initiative launched its Family Planning Funding Benefits policy, which offers free IVF treatment and adoption support to its people. This pioneering policy was influenced by Fein’s own experience and empathy for others in similar circumstances.
Initiative is the first agency in Australia to provide a game-changing benefit that aims to support its people during an emotional time and aims to retain team members amid a talent shortage.
Fein’s influence in the industry also extends to the Media Federation of Australia, where she has been a board member since 2018.
Dentsu – CEO
Danny Bass was appointed as CEO of dentsu in Australia and New Zealand in August. He oversees the strategic direction and growth of the Carat, iProspect, and dentsu X brands.
He joins the company with more than 20 years of experience in digital media. Bass was previously director of Snap Inc., former CEO of IPG Mediabrands Australia and chief investment and chief digital officer at GroupM ANZ.
Bass also served as a board member of the Media Federation of Australia from 2015 to 2021. In addition to being a highly respected leader in the industry, he also is a driver for positivity.
He advocates for workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion. He is the chair of UnLtd., the industry’s social purpose organisation that connects marketing and creative industries with charities helping at-risk children and young people.
Though still early into his role at dentsu ANZ, the industry has high expectations for what Bass can bring.
EssenceMediacom – CEO
Pat Crowley was named the CEO of EssenceMediacom this year, ahead of the Essence and Mediacom merger in January 2023.
He will lead a team of 550 media, marketing, and communications professionals in Australia.
Having been in the industry for over 25 years, he deeply understands the media, technology, communications, and advertising landscape from an audience and commercial perspective.
In the past, Crowley led Ikon Sydney for seven years. For the past 16 years, he has been responsible for the Commonwealth Bank Group’s media investment.
He was most recently the CEO of Essence before the announced merger. Now, Crowley oversees and steers the transformation and union between the powerhouse brands as the industry anticipates how the new identity will evolve.
Mediabrands – CEO
Mark Coad leads as the CEO of Mediabrands and its powerhouse brands, UM Australia and Initiative.
He is known for his character, credibility, and common-sense approach. His career spans more than 30 years, including stints at Y&R Melbourne, MEC Melbourne, OMD and PHD.
Coad joined Mediabrands Australia as CEO in 2020. Under his leadership, the company responded to the talent crisis brought on by the pandemic by heavily investing in its people with diverse and inclusive company policies.
He has also been at the forefront of launching automation transformation initiatives. This action effectively reduces pressure on staff to do low-value manual tasks. It allows them to produce and develop more innovative strategies and creative work.
Coad also plays an active role in the media industry bodies as a board membership of the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) and advisory board member of ADMA.
GroupM – CEO ANZ
As the CEO of GroupM Australia and New Zealand, Aimee Buchanan aims to shape the next era of the media industry where advertising works better for people.
She has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and works across GroupM’s agencies – EssenceMediacom, Mindshare, Wavemaker, Neo and m/SIX.
Buchanan has worked across a range of high-volume Blue Chip clients, managed complex pieces of business and worked as a partner to clients in developing communications solutions.
Under her leadership, GroupM is making significant moves in sustainability by measuring and reducing ad-based carbon emissions using a global carbon measurement framework.
Buchanan is a highly respected leader with a proven track record with stints at MPG and OMD Australia. She was CEO from 2016 to 2021 and sits on the MFA board.
OMG – CEO
Peter Horgan takes the top spot on the Mediaweek Agency 50 as the CEO of Omnicom Media Group, Australia and New Zealand.
His influence in the industry is far and wide as the leader of the top holding group in Australia. He leads all of OMG’s assets across Australia and New Zealand, including OMD, m2m, PHD, Foundation, Dynamo, Resolution, and Accuen.
Horgan is also the chair of the Media Federation of Australia – a seat he has held for the past eight years. For the past two years, Horgan has also been a board member of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA).
His industry experience spans over 20 years at media agencies in Australia and the UK. Under Horgan, OMG recently launched Kickstart@OMG to attract career changers to the media agency industry in response to the talent shortage – particularly at the mid-level.