The NSW Government’s $78 million Master Media contract has locked out Australian-owned media agencies and contravenes its own Procurement Policy, as the Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA), the industry body representing almost 100 independent media agencies, seeks urgent amendments of the Expression of Interest.
The EoI states that the NSW Government is seeking to “engage a single media agency supplier or panel of agencies from one media agency holding group” to provide media strategy, planning and buying services. Holding companies refers to the six multinational media agency groups in Australia and means that all of the successful agency’s fees will go offshore.
The IMAA asserts that the NSW Government’s EoI was released under the cover of Covid, with independent agencies unaware of it. The IMAA has made several unsuccessful requests to meet with NSW customer service minister Victor Dominello, and IMAA members have written to their local members, which have been met with a similar response and no action.
The IMAA has implored Dominello and the NSW Government to make the following changes to the EOI:
• Review and amend the EOI process as in its current format, as it locks out independent agencies.
• Ensure an equal share of government campaigns are awarded to independent agencies.
• Australian owned, independent agencies are included on the government preferred supplier lists.
• To ensure equal distribution and a fair balance of all government campaigns, an independent voice should be secured on the selection board.
IMAA general manager, Sam Buchanan, said: “The local media buying industry has taken a big hit over the last 18 months. To have the NSW Government exclude us from this contract is not in the national interest. This will send the money offshore to support another country’s economy and not our own.
“We have reached out to the NSW Government to try to find a way to include the local industry, but it seems they are only talking to the multinationals.
“If the NSW Government took the time to get to know the local media buying industry, they would see that it employs thousands of talented people and their businesses are Australian owned. This is a lazy policy that will impact the livelihood of Australian business owners.
“This comes at a time when the NSW Government talks so proudly about supporting the local economy first and yet does not even give independent agencies an opportunity to tender. Australian businesses have not only been overlooked, but locked out. It’s unAustralian and anticompetitive.”
The IMAA has questioned the NSW Government’s adherence to its own Procurement Policy, which is supposed to set aside 10% of contracts to SMEs. A Freedom of Information request from the IMAA has also asked the NSW Government to disclose its advisory committee members, who are advising the Government on the master media EoI. To date, this request has been ignored.
“The NSW Government appears not to have allocated any contract budget to Australian owned agencies from what we can see. We also believe that the advisory committee is comprised exclusively of multinational agency executives, who have influenced the Government in the wording of the EoI. The question has to be asked: why isn’t anyone telling us who is on the committee?” Buchanan said.
“We will not give up in forcing the Government’s hand [holding the government to account] and giving Australian owned agencies a fair go.”