IMAA calls on government and local businesses to support Australian-owned media agencies

IMAA - CEO Sam Buchanan

“We are not asking for a free kick, just a chance to compete”

The Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA) has called for the Australian business community and government to support Australian-owned media agencies and allow for a level playing field in pitches and tenders.
The IMAA said it is unacceptable that Australian businesses and government bodies are not mandated to support Australian businesses.
While the Federal Government requires its departments and agencies to source 20% of their $70 billion annual procurement from small and medium enterprises (SMEs), media agency contracts are still awarded to multinational holding companies.
Since its inception in 2020, the IMAA has introduced a swathe of initiatives to help the independent media agency sector better compete with multinational agencies.
The IMAA also intensely lobbied the NSW Government after independent media agencies were locked out of its $78 million master media tender, effectively putting its own Procurement Policy, which sets aside 10% of contracts to SMEs, into question.

See also: IMAA says NSW government excluded Australian companies from Master Media contract
More recently, the ACT Government awarded its media business to a multinational agency, moving it from an Australian-owned incumbent. This leaves only the Northern Territory and Tasmanian governments working with an Australian-owned media agency.
Sam Buchanan, IMAA CEO, said: “The IMAA’s view is that it is irresponsible for governments and government businesses and departments to spend with companies where taxpayers’ money goes overseas.  Politicians forget it’s ultimately the money of the Australian taxpayers. Bureaucrats stand up and talk about supporting Australian business and when the opportunity comes, they forget their promises.”
“Various governments have pulled the old line about savings with economies of scale however the gap has been closed between big international holdcos and Australian agencies,” he said.
“They no longer have the buying power they did years ago. The industry has shifted significantly and more than 60% of media buying activity occurs in ‘bid-based’ transactions, meaning everyone pays the same in the auction-based market regardless of the size of the business. This has truly levelled the playing field,” he added.
The recent IMAA salary survey shows that independent agencies also have more experience than the multinational agencies – indie agency staff have average media experience of 9.3 years and 25% of staff have more than 10 years’ experience.
Buchanan said “The independent media agency sector employs more than 2,000 Australians and the IMAA has 150+ members.
“If COVID and the world order has taught us nothing, it is the need to support our own economy and that needs to start at the top. If you are not supporting an indie it is frankly un-Australian. All are successful Australian businesses, and we are not asking for a free kick, just a chance to compete.”

Top image: Sam Buchanan

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