Mediaweek Podcast: Heavy Hitters with Mark Coad, Melissa Fein and Anathea Ruys

Heavy Hitters

Listen to Sparrow in a recording session with the chief executives of IPG Mediabrands, Initiative and UM

For Mediaweek’s new podcast series Heavy Hitters, I have some of the best leaders in the business here who are all C-suite with IPG Mediabrands.

Our podcast guests are Mark Coad, CEO of Mediabrands Australia, Melissa Fein, CEO of Initiative Australia, and Anathea Ruys CEO of UM Australia.

Below are just a few of the highlights from the podcast.

First start in the industry

Coad: In my first day at what was then Total Media 30 years ago for a job interview as a graduate I had no idea what they did. Yet I walked out the door with a job.

Fein: I took a gap year after I finished school, but I wanted a career in sports journalism. But when I heard how much the sales side of the industry got paid I changed focus and zig-zagged between publishers and agencies for a few years.

Ruys: I accidentally fell into the role of editor at New Idea New Zealand and then Australia. I then moved into PR at what was Spark PR in NZ and a client was PHD. My first agency role was as MD at Mindshare in Melbourne.

Heavy Hitters

Heavy Hitters 2023 Outlook

Ruys: I’m not making any predictions about the year. I think it will be a very changeable year. We are having some fascinating discussions with clients who are wanting to talk about how media and marketing can bolster their brand and their sales during times like this. Yet others are thinking they might have constraints on their budgets.

Fein: I was intrigued by the summer of AI. The rise of ChatGPT indicates this could really be the year AI arrives and we are seeing some amazing examples of what can be done for brands and consumers. We have used AI around transformation and automation to help improve the employee experience. When it comes to ad spend it seems there will be some volatility. Something that is still impacting the retail sector is the supply chain challenges. There has been no decline in spend, but budgets are flat. Mergers and acquisitions could be interesting this year with Nine having such a monopoly in the media marketing space. I am fascinated about what could happen there.

Coad: I don’t know what this year will bring. There will be some headwinds with some people struggling out there. We have clients who will respond differently to that. The biggest issue the industry has been grappling with is talent. Finding and keeping good talent and filling their vacancies. That could ease this year. If I was to pick a topic that will accelerate this year it will be around sustainability and responsibility particularly as it relates to media. Decisions will now be made that see clients also considering if they are responsible corporate citizens and are they making the planet a better place.

Heavy Hitters from IPG Mediabrands: Anathea Ruys, Mark Coad and Melissa Fein

Government ad spend

Ruys: It was well documented that the last government had higher spending with a lot going on. This government has also made clear they are cautious about spending. They do have important messages though including health messages, but we are waiting for the budget in May to hear about where their priorities are.

The discussion also includes discussion about the leadership style of the three chief executives (including comments on each other!) and the 2023 highlights each are looking forward to. The Heavy Hitters podcast closes with a special Sparrow-hosted fast round of questions.

Listen to the Heavy Hitters podcast here.

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