The IMAA, the national, not for profit industry association for independent media agencies launched last year.
O’Brien was originally from Melbourne and started his career as a company accountant, but moved into media after only 6 weeks.
He eventually transferred to Sydney in the 90’s and worked across WPP and OMG agencies. Before spending 11 years at Frontier. O’Brien then started Saint Mob Media in September 2020.
He started off with an impressive list of foundation clients that included ClubsNSW, NSW Minerals Council, Jumbuck KFC franchisees NSW and Billy Lou Kids Shoes
“Coming from dealing with group agencies where it was more about negotiations and a lot less client contact and a lot more media contact, and then moving into an independent media agency where there was more client contact as opposed to media contact, being close to clients allowed me to start the business up,” O’Brien told Mediaweek.
“Once you develop a trust with the clients then they tend to back you, and I had a few that wanted to come with me when I started up myself, and I brought them into Frontier 10 or 11 years ago so it gave me a little stable to start off with.”
Since the launch less than a year ago Saint Mob Media has also added clients such as East33 Oysters, T Magazine, KFC franchisee group Victoria, Makita, and Brighte. O’Brien believes the reason for his success is having contact with a network of individuals.
“Over the last five or ten years, I have met a lot of individual operators who I have worked with either for clients or other agencies. I think having contact with that network has helped because it is not a case of me pounding the footpath and knocking doors down, I think it is more of a case of me being given a heads up by the network to say ‘this could be good for you, I have put you forward’ type of thing.”
Since Saint Mob Media was set up in September, the agency has bought its media direct through Horgs at OMD, which O’Brien said has been a valuable set-up.
“OMD was great because they just have great processes and I know the people that work in the systems there quite well and have been dealing with them for 20 or 30 years. Everything works and there is a lot of good communication there, so it’s good to have that sort of backing and processes in place when things go wrong.”
Despite O’Brien’s main background as a national investment director for large companies like WPP, when asked about what his agency specialises in he said it is a hands-on approach.
“Just being a touchpoint for the clients and understanding what’s going on.”
O’Brien also mentioned a quote that he received from Alan Scash, 13 years ago.
“Stay close to the client first, they are the ones that matter, the media will always be there”
Being a member of the IMAA
O’Brien described himself as fortunate to have seen the founding seeds of the IMAA in February of 2020 when he was with Frontier.
“When I moved into my own shop, IMAA was just a great way of being networked. What they have got on the plans are great and we really need help with them especially with training and reputation.
“And it gives us the ability to feed off each other which is terrific, it is refreshing to have honest conversations with everyone.”