Mediaweek Agency 50: Sophie Madden talks tackling industry issues high on the MFA’s agenda

Mediaweek Agency 50 - MFA CEO Sophie Madden

“My focus – and the MFA’s focus – is always to empower and inspire our members to create positive change in our industry”

Mediaweek held its inaugural Power Lunch in October, celebrating the successes of the media industry and the people who make it.

Making #13 on the Agency 50 list is Sophie Madden, CEO of the Media Federation of Australia (MFA).

Madden spoke with Mediaweek about launching the MFA’s industry purpose, the industry issues on the industry body’s agenda this year and the improvements they hope to make in the year ahead.
Mediaweek: Congratulations on making the #13 spot on our Mediaweek Agency 50 list. What was your reaction to your placement?

Sophie Madden: I love our industry and my job. My focus – and the MFA’s focus – is always to empower and inspire our members to create positive change in our industry and the broader community, because We Are The Changers.

Of course, it’s always nice to be recognised for the work we do so it was a lovely surprise to find myself on the list alongside a group of passionate and inspiring industry leaders. It’s an honour to be included in such great company.
MW: How does your position on the list reflect the achievements made by MFA?

SM: 2022 was a big year for the MFA with a number of initiatives we were proud to bring to fruition, including launching our industry purpose We Are The Changers to re-instill pride back in the industry and bringing our community back together for MFA EX – which attracted 2,500 media agency professionals across Melbourne and Sydney – as well as the MFA Awards. All of these projects reminded us of the impact we can all have working in our industry.

Among the many other successful initiatives we worked on this year were the launch of MFA Media For All, an industry-wide diversity, equity and inclusion strategy; the launch of the new MFA How to Buy TV e-Learning program; improved Out-Of-Home measurement and trading standardisation with the OMA; the ongoing growth of our essential programs such as NGEN and MFA 5+; coming together with the AANA and ACA to support Ad Net Zero, a global initiative to reduce emissions across the advertising industry; and many more.
MW: What are three industry issues on your mind, and in your opinion, how can they be solved or achieved
SM: Heading into 2023, three of the issues that will be high on the agenda for our industry are:
1. Talent attraction and retention: at the MFA, we’ll be tackling the current talent shortage through the Career Changers Program, a recruitment and training program that aims to attract ‘career changers’, employees with experience from outside the media agency industry. MFA member agencies have taken the 1 in 10 Pledge, committing that one in every 10 people they hire will come from a non-media agency background, and the MFA will administer accelerated media skills training through expanded MFA e-learning courses and new training initiatives.
2. A spotlight on regulation: data, privacy, digital platforms and advertising restrictions will be under further scrutiny in 2023. The recent Optus and Medibank data breaches have added greater urgency to the task.
3. Delivering on sustainability: while we already saw agencies and advertisers dial up the importance of sustainability in marketing and investment decisions this year, greater gains will be made in 2023. As an industry with the ability to influence positive change, media agencies will continue to play an important role on this journey and we’re excited to be launching an industry ESG strategy in the new year.
MW: What is your outlook for MFA in 2023?
SM: Broadly for our industry, we expect to see a softening of marketing investment in light of a challenging economic outlook but we know from experience that our industry will tackle adversity and challenges with unity, innovation, and a change-making attitude.
From an MFA perspective, our focus in 2023 will be to continue to be a force that makes the industry better at what we do through important initiatives, such as the establishment of an industry ESG strategy and an industry action plan on workplace safety, including a robust framework for the prevention and reporting of workplace safety.
We’re also excited to be celebrating the 15th year anniversary of NGEN and the program’s success in empowering those with less than five years’ experience to build successful and long-lasting industry careers.
MW: What are your hopes for the industry in 2023?
SM: My hope is to deliver on the objective of our We Are The Changers industry purpose by re-instilling pride among media agency employees and seeing that come into fruition with a reduction in employee churn.
Ultimately, these improvements should have a positive impact on workloads and mental health, helping our people feel happier and more fulfilled.

Top image: Sophie Madden

Mediaweek Agency 50 - MFA

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