Wednesday February 7, 2024

Prime Video
Amazon spruiks competitive rates for Prime Video advertising tier launch

By Danielle Long

Mediaweek understands the e-commerce giant is looking for launch partners.

Amazon is spruiking competitive CPM rates for the launch of its Prime Video advertising tier, which is scheduled for July. 

Mediaweek understands the e-commerce giant is looking for launch partners to come on board for the initial launch before opening the platform up to all advertisers from Q4 this year. 

Amazon is understood to be following the positioning it adopted for its US launch last week, with competitive CPM rates and a focus on its significant reach to attract advertisers to its new advertising offering.

Media buyers told Mediaweek the CPM rates are priced to compete with BVOD rates and are pitched in the low-to-mid-30s. However, others suggested it could stretch to the low 40s, “depending on how premium it is”. 

The pricing showcases the strategy that Amazon is taking with Prime Video by pitching it against all types of video, significantly BVOD rather than purely competing with SVODs, such as Netflix or Disney+. 

The strategy is in stark contrast to the premium positioning that Netflix adopted when it launched its ad tier to market in 2022. The streaming giant adopted CPM rates in the high 50s and 60s, however, it struggled with inventory and was forced to revise its rates to appease advertisers. Netflix rates are now understood to sit in the $40s. 

The latest subscriber figures reveal Prime Video secured 15.5% of new subscriptions from Australian households between October and December, according to Kantar data published by Capital Brief. The data showed Prime Video grew from 12.9% the previous quarter, leading the platforms ahead of Binge (11.4%), Paramount+ (9.6%), Netflix (8.9%) and Apple TV+ (8.4%).

The data revealed that all of the platforms increased subscribers – 100,000 households overall – the findings run counter to the widely speculated churn that was anticipated as consumers cut costs. 

Amazon Prime Video is included with the overall Prime subscription package, with all subscribers to receive the ad tier when it launches.  

Amazon declined to comment on the story but confirmed its previous statement that: “Ads in Prime Video content will be introduced in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Canada in early 2024, followed by France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Australia later in the year.” 

See also: Amazon US offers low ad prices to get brands on board for Prime Video Ads launch

Bunnings becomes hammerbarn bluey
For real life! Behind Hammerbarn and Bluey's Bunnings takeover

By Tess Connery

Kate O’Connor: “We got to the point where the scale really exceeded our wildest expectations.”

Having recently been crowned Australia’s strongest brand, there should be nothing that could make Bunnings change the iconic logo on the side of its warehouses. Nothing, except the power of blue cartoon dog Bluey.

This month, six Bunnings stores in Australia and one in New Zealand are trading in the Bunnings name for Hammerbarn, inspired by a season two episode of the smash hit Ludo Studio cartoon. The campaign comes with a series of Bluey-themed kids DIY workshops held in-store, and exclusive Bluey products including gnomes Hecuba, Jeremy, and Tony.

With the amount of activities and merch that the campaign offers, everyone can be happy with what they have – and nobody’s husband has to eventually get it. 

Reflecting on how the campaign came about to begin with, BBC Studios director of brands and licensing ANZ, Kate O’Connor, tells Mediaweek that “The story was actually very simple.”

Kate O’Connor Bluey

Kate O’Connor at Hammerbarn

“I reached out to Bunnings’ managing director Mike Schneider, and explained a little bit about the brand, the episode, and the reach of the episode. I wasn’t really sure how much he would know about Bluey, but he got back to me pretty much straightaway and was really enthusiastic about a collaboration together. He mentioned that his wife had bought him the Hammerbarn book for Christmas! 

“Once Mike was on board, it started filtering down through both of the organisations at once, and we all started brainstorming – we got to the point where the scale really exceeded our wildest expectations. Bunnings has never done anything like this before, but despite that, they really matched us in terms of innovation and drive.”

The appeal of Bluey doesn’t just end with kids, with adults across the globe – both with kids and without – finding themselves following the adventures of a cartoon dog. 

Bluey is one of the most-watched television shows in the world at the moment, which is just amazing,” said O’Connor. “We don’t take that for granted. It’s in more than 60 countries, 30 languages, it was the second most streamed show in the US last year, and definitely the most streamed show in Australia.

“Being able to do something like this with Bunnings – which is ultimately a store for adults – goes to show the versatility and appeal of Bluey across various demographics.”

Bluey at Hammerbarn

When it came to actually bringing the two Aussie icons together, O’Connor points to the values of the show as the core that the project was built around.

“We’ve done some large-scale projects – our collab with Airbnb back in 2022 is a good example of this sort of scale. We do like to do things that are a bit different, a bit outside the norm of the licencing mould

“We follow the same key strategic pillars when we’re looking at brand collaborations, and at the heart of it is authenticity to the show. We’re a creator-led show, which means we’re not looking at it from a commercial lens first and foremost, although that’s crucial to success. A strong, unified, authentic brand image is what we know will be the key to the longevity and success of our campaigns.”

It takes a brave marketing team to remove the name of a brand during a campaign, but that’s exactly what has happened as Bunnings becomes Hammerbarn. It’s a bold move, and one that O’Connor said reflects the strength of both the brands involved. 

“Both brands are so iconic. The campaign doesn’t say Bluey or Bunnings anywhere, but because there’s this knowledge and love of these two icons, just having the word Hammerbarn means something to audiences and consumers of both.”

It’s a sentiment backed up by Victoria Berry, head of strategy at FutureBrand Australia, who tells Mediaweek “You know a brand is iconic when it can play around with arguably its most distinctive assets like its logo or name. From the shape of the building to the car park configuration to the sausage sizzle to the range and service style, Bunnings is a fully-immersive branded experience so has earned the license to be playful.”

Hammerbarn paint wall

For Bunnings, the introduction of the Hammerbarn stores will undoubtedly lead to an increase in families adding a trip to the store to their weekend to-do list. For the BBC, O’Connor said the goals of the campaign came down to bringing Bluey to more Aussies than ever before. 

One of the key objectives is to really weave Bluey deeper into the cultural fabric and keep Bluey front and centre in the zeitgeist, to really maintain that momentum. 

“We know that Hammerbarn is a fan-favourite episode, and we also know that many Aussie families have referred to Bunnings as Hammerbarn since the episode aired in season two. So we knew that this was something that could make a huge impact.”

The word “zeitgeist” is also brought up by Berry, who said the campaign is “A great example” of Bunnings successfully tapping into it.

Bluey is as iconic to kids, families and Australians as Bunnings is, but it’s the emotional connection Bluey has forged that Bunnings really stands to leverage and build.

“Overall, Bunnings do a great job of using purpose as a lens to enhance the in-store experience while continuing to think about new ways to make visits to the store fun. This is pure fun,” Berry concluded.

Teasing that there are “a few more examples of this kind of thing that will emerge in 2024 and 2025,” O’Connor and the team at BBC won’t be slowing down any time soon.

“There’s something incredibly invigorating about working for a company that is in such a strong phase of growth, and one that recognises Australia as being a hub of that growth. I think it allows us a level of risk-taking and gives us an entrepreneurial spirit within the team – it fosters being able to think of these big ideas and take them through to execution.”

Phillip Adams
Phillip Adams announces RN show to end in June, won’t die at the microphone

By James Manning

Regular guest Laura Tingle said: ‘How on earth will we get by without him’.

“I have always planned to die at the microphone,” Phillip Adams told his ABC Late Night Live audience on Monday night. “But that would be a bit unfair to the cleaners,” he added before announcing the end of his run hosting the Radio National nightly talk show.

“I have decided to leave with what’s left of my own steam with decades of happy memories,” he continued.

The departure of Phillip Adams coincides with a major refresh of ABC Radio that has seen the arrival of management from the world of commercial FM radio. That started with the appointment of former Nova programming chief Ben Latimer. More recently the former head of content for Triple M, Mike Fitzpatrick, was appointed to a key role.

Adams will get to do a farewell tour with the late-night slot continuing until the end of June 2024.

On Tuesday the ABC released a statement formally announcing Adams’ departure:
Adams joined the ABC in 1991 when he took up the Late Night Live microphone for Radio National. His trademark wit and incisive commentary quickly cemented it as the benchmark for sharp analysis of current events and the hottest debates in politics, science, philosophy and the arts.

Over the past 33 years he has interviewed thousands of the world’s most influential politicians, historians, archaeologists, novelists, theologians, economists, philosophers and compelling conversationalists.


‘Resigning increases your popularity’

Adams has remained a prolific user of Twitter and he also shared news of his departure there. He was subsequently inundated with tributes from listeners wishing him well. As he posted some of the comments, Adams said: “Clearly resigning increases your popularity. Must do it more often. Thanks for the kind words.

ABC head of RN Cath Dwyer paid tribute to his contribution and legacy. “Phillip is an exceptional broadcaster and public intellectual, who intrinsically understands the unique intimacy of radio as a medium,” she said.

“Over the past 30 years he’s interviewed thousands of the world’s most influential thinkers and kept us all entertained with his wit and intellect. There’s no one quite like him and no other show quite like Late Night Live. He is much loved by RN audiences we look forward to celebrating his extraordinary contribution to the Australian conversation over the coming months.”

Richard Fidler and Laura Tingle on Adams

ABC Radio colleague Richard Fidler said: “Phillip has served the nation as a columnist, film producer, ad man and farmer, but his greatest talent has always been as a broadcaster. With LNL, he brought informality, humanity and humour to great and weighty subjects, and a melodious voice that sat beautifully in the night air of the Australian bush, city and suburbs.”

Regular Monday night Late Night Live guest and ABC staff elected director Laura Tingle said: “For more than 15 years (neither of us can quite remember how long) Phillip Adams and I have had a chat on a Monday night about the weird and wonderful world of Australian politics.

“It’s been such a privilege to be part of the Little Wireless Program, and to talk to a bloke with the brain the size of a planet, for all this time.

“Even when he is being ‘Oh Phillip!’ infuriating, or luring me into saying things I probably shouldn’t.

“I know from all the people who stop me in the street how big a presence LNL is in so many people’s lives. And how beloved PA is by the audience.

“What a kaleidoscope of issues and stories he has guided us through over more than three decades on this program.

“How on earth will we get by without him.”

Phillip Adams photographed by his friend Barry Jones

About Phillip Adams AO, FAHSA, FRSA

Largely self-educated after leaving school in his mid-teens, he has honorary doctorates from AFTRS as well as Sydney, Griffith, Macquarie and Edith Cowan Universities and the University of South Australia. He has authored more than 20 books, and his writing has appeared in some of the most influential publications in Australia, London and New York. He continues to write a weekly column for The Weekend Australian Magazine.

Adams was a foundation member of the Australia Council and chairman of the Film, Radio and Television Board. He has chaired the Australian Film Institute, the Australian Film Commission, Film Australia and the National Australia Day Council. He is a former president of the Victorian Council for the Arts and was foundation chairman of the Commission for the Future. Currently he chairs the Advisory Board of the Centre for the Mind at Sydney University and the Australian National University.

Adams has been awarded two Orders of Australia, was named Australian Humanist of the Year 1987, Republican of the Year 2005, and received the Longford Award, the film industry’s highest accolade, in 1981, the same year that he was appointed Senior Anzac Fellow. He is a recipient of the Henry Lawson Arts Award (1987) an inductee in the Media Hall of Fame and in 1998, the National Trust elected him one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures.

Phillip Adams lives on a cattle property in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Woolley marketing DE&I
Woolley Marketing: Does DE&I matter or not?

By Darren Woolley

There are five weeks until International Women’s Day on March 8.

Get out your calendars folks, today is five weeks to International Women’s Day on March 8. This year’s theme: “Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.” and I suspect we’ll see many brands and agencies revert to a trusted formula – there may be an in-house panel or a morning tea (pink cupcake anyone?). The team will celebrate the progress we have made for a day. But then brands and agencies will get back to work. 

Except this year might be a bit different – the week before (Feb 27 for any CEOs who still have their calendars out) the Workplace Gender Equality Agency will release data on the pay gap for businesses with over 100 employees. 

For the first time, we’ll have a very clear picture on how much brands and agencies care about creating workplaces with equity and fairness at their heart… I suspect the money may talk.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (or DE&I as it is regularly abbreviated) is too complex and wide-ranging a topic to be addressed in an article of this size. But with International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, it seems timely to share some observations and opinions about the progress of Diversity and Inclusion in the Australian Advertising and Media market.

It is well documented and proven that diversity leads to economic growth at both a country and an organisational level. Richard Florida has for years been studying and writing about the creative class, making diversity a key factor for an industry that celebrates commercial creativity as its reason for being.

So please don’t misinterpret the intent here. There are some significant efforts underway to improve diversity and inclusion in an industry that has traditionally been white bread. Not the least being the ACA Create Space and MFA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey. These initiatives are valuable to the industry.

Yet for all of this, the way organisations are interpreting progress still carries a lingering scent of tokenism. Diversity, inasmuch as hiring and elevating a diverse range of people in an organisation, is of course essential. But it can be measured in tick-box style. In effect, a ‘change scorecard’.

Liberté Egalité LGBTQité By Dennis Flad

By Dennis Flad

Does a scorecard define true change? Well, partly. And no-one could rationally argue that Diversity is ‘solved’. But where we still have perhaps even more work to do is in the Inclusion part of DE&I. That genuine cultural change that will drive diversity while retaining equality, the change that eliminates gender pay gaps once and for all, the change that completely eradicates the kind of stories I hear from individuals that still seep out to me like water from between stones. Stories about comments made or overheard, about the continued, insidious existence of old-school mentality – not as overt as once it was, but still manifestly there. About treatment in the workplace. About ‘diversity hires’. About being given projects based solely on orientation stereotypes – the ‘queer person with the Pride brief’. About a sense of futility that people mean what they say or truly understand.

The evidence of our need to improve doesn’t just sit with private stories, powerful as they are; it sits with the number of advocacy groups and events existing and still being created, to combat the challenges. Groups such as Women in Media, The Mavens, The Aunties, and more. Friends of Rhonda, for people in advertising who identify as queer, launched last month in Melbourne. The evidence can also be seen in the increasing backlash against those organisations who piggyback off advocacy groups and events in a tokenistic way.

Take gender equality and this year’s UN International Women’s Day. While it is clearly still important to maintain awareness with annual days of recognition, this is not a one-day theme. It is a 365-day theme that requires a year-round effort, as it should be. Anything less is tokenism, and people are noticing and angrily calling out that hypocrisy, where they see it. Just as the LGBTIQA+ activists are calling out corporations that support their community only during Pride Week, organisations such as F*ck The Cupcakes are calling out the industry that happily organises the celebratory IWD lunch on March 8 and then goes back to business as usual before the last pink cupcake is eaten. When what is needed – what is demanded – is real change and most importantly real inclusion.

There is an argument to suggest that the existence of advocacy groups is counter-intuitive; that they foster an ‘us versus them’ mentality. This is patent nonsense because we haven’t truly eradicated the challenges and so people clearly still need a voice. Beyond the work they do and the impact they have raising and addressing issues, advocacy groups also provide belonging and inclusion. And, perhaps most importantly, shared experiences – people simply talking to each other about what happens to them, out of the echo-chamber of their own organisation.

So, why does this matter? The point is that the score card mentality of ‘diversity’, while helpful, can allow people to gamify the result to look better, or worse, than it is. Likewise, tokenism can act as a convenient mask to distract people from the lack of commitment to real change via empty feel-good moments before the can is kicked down the road.

To address this, we need a higher standard of expectations from our industry leaders. It is not enough to do nothing. In fact, doing nothing is supporting the status quo against the changes needed. We need to make the I of Inclusion mean more. And token support will eventually be found out, so unless you are playing a short-term game, it is not a winning strategy. Instead, it is time to go all in with support. Last year, F*ck the Cupcakes called for the men of the industry to show up, not just on IWD, but every day.

For positive change to happen, it requires change across the entire industry. Change in culture. Change in mindset. Change in behaviour. This is not the time to sit back, it is time to step up and support the changes that will not just make the industry more diverse, but more inclusive as well.

See Also: Woolley Marketing: What is more important, the channel or the content?

Darren Woolley is Global CEO of TrinityP3, Australia’s largest and most influential independent marketing / pitch consultancy and is well known to the advertising industry. Founded more than 20 years ago TrinityP3 has a significant presence in Australia where it leads the pitch process for many of the country’s leading advertising accounts as well as having offices in London, New York and Zurich.

Darren Woolley Darren Woolley

Dennis Flad is responsible for Trinity P3 EMEA and founder of t’charta, a management consultancy boutique for strategic product management, pricing and go-to-market based in Zurich, Switzerland. Dennis worked his entire life in marketing and advertising, which allows him to infuse his whimsical drawings with a realistic understanding of management practices and behaviours.

Dennis Flad Dennis Flad

seven Dean La Rosa
Seven unveils new commercial data and programmatic team

The new team will be run by Dean La Rosa.

After the merger of the programmatic and commercial data groups, the Seven Network has launched a new commercial data and programmatic team that will work to bring together Seven’s digital, data and tech solutions.

The new team will be run by Dean La Rosa, previously Seven’s head of commercial data. The team will report to network digital sales director, Rachel Page.

The new team covers data, tech and programmatic trading specialists, including commercial data manager Emily Smith, programmatic partnerships manager Sam Pearse and commercial programmatic manager Juan Gervasio.

Page said: “In the almost three years since he joined Seven, Dean has made a real difference to our business. He has been instrumental in accelerating Seven’s product suite across planning, buying and measurement by building 7REDiQ into a market-leading data and insights platform, onboarding and commercialising some very successful third-party partnerships and working closely with Seven’s Audience Intelligence team to future proof our ID strategy in the face of many changes across tech and Government policy.

“In his new role, Dean will focus on the growth of Seven’s digital assets and will be responsible for creating meaningful partnerships through addressable commercialisation and efficient programmatic trading solutions.”

 La Rosa said: “With the assets, technology and people at Seven, we’re perfectly positioned to deliver the best opportunities for advertisers who rely on us every day to create impactful experiences with their customers.

“I’m excited to take on this new responsibility, building on already great partnerships among our agency, technology and data partners, not just for now but as part of our very exciting strategic plans and innovation for the future.”

The establishment of the new commercial data and programmatic team follows the launch in December last year of the network’s Advanced Advertising division to drive the development and launch of new trading models across Seven’s ecosystem.

See Also: Seven aims to grow total TV trading with Advanced Advertising team

Top Image: Dean La Rosa

sca listnr Kieran Grant, Angela Cann, Elise Cummings, Ashley McFadyen
SCA appoints new Sydney digital sales leadership team for LiSTNR

The launch comes after four new senior sales appointments.

Four new SCA senior sales appointments have led to the launch of LiSTNR’s new Sydney digital leadership team. 

Angela Cann has been promoted to head of digital sales – Sydney. In her new role, Cann will be responsible for providing overall strategic direction and leadership to the Sydney LiSTNR sales team, with a focus on revenue across all LiSTNR digital audio assets. Cann has worked across LiSTNR since its launch in 2021.

Ashley McFadyen has been appointed to the newly created role of head of digital sales partnerships. In his new role, McFadyen will work to shape how LiSTNR interacts with advertisers.

Kieran Grant has returned to SCA in the role of digital group sales manager. Having previously worked as one of the highest revenue drivers within the Sydney Agency team, Grant will work to further strengthening the digital capabilities.

Finally, Elise Cunningham joins the Digital Audio technology platform as digital group sales manager, from broadcast radio company ARN. Cunningham was previously an account director at ARN and prior to that was with JCDecaux.

Commenting on the new structure, Olly Newton, SCA executive head – LiSTNR commercial said: “LiSTNR has outperformed its local and international rivals in the digital audio advertising market in terms of revenue, AdTech capability and content. This new structure will ensure we continue to develop greater agency and client relationships and provides strategic direction to the rapidly growing digital audio market. I’m delighted to welcome the new team and look forward to them all achieving success in 2024.”

Last month LiSTNR launched CommSec Invest, a podcast developed in partnership with CommSec, designed to help young investors navigate the share market. 

The new series aims to demystify the share market and provide relatable, user-friendly advice for young Aussies looking to invest.

See Also: LiSTNR and CommSec launch new podcast to simplify the share market for young investors

Top Image: Kieran Grant, Angela Cann, Elise Cummings, Ashley McFadyen

Smirnoff Ice Taylor Swift inspired Lavender Lemonade - Feb 2024
Smirnoff taps into Taylor Swift’s popularity with ‘Lavender Era’ beverage

“When we saw the line-up of incredible musicians and artists making their way to Aussie stages this year, we knew we had to get ready for it.”

Smirnoff has launched a limited edition ready-to-drink (RTD) flavour – Smirnoff Ice Lavender Lemonade in a bid to tap into the current wave of Taylor Swift fever. 

The drink is a nod to Swift’s Lavender Haze album and her record-breaking The Eras Tour, which arrives in Australia this month.

Smirnoff is positioning the drink, which features a citrus flavour, while the bottle has a cloudy lavender colouring as a fun beverage to mimic the energy and excitement that festivals evoke for music lovers.

Smirnoff marketing manager Maddy Stockwell said, “With the colour purple having its moment, we’re leaning into our lavender era with the launch of Smirnoff Lavender Lemonade, creating a new taste that sparks excitement.

“Smirnoff lives and breathes music, so when we saw the line-up of incredible musicians and artists making their way to Aussie stages this year, we knew we had to get ready for it.”

It comes as the Taylor Swift effect reaches mass saturation due to wild speculation about an appearance at the Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas this weekend. 

Mediaweek has previously reported on the impact Swift’s big-spending fans have made on the American Football market since beginning her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. 

While many are quick to be pessimistic about Swift, Kate O’Loughlin, associate strategy director at Initiative and proud Swiftie, told Mediaweek that there is no doubt the Grammy winner will significantly impact this year’s Super Bowl.

See also: The Taylor Bowl: What brands and advertisers can learn about the power of Taylor and her Swifties at the Super Bowl

In other recent, local moves of the adult beverage category, Campari Australia, its media agency, Mindshare, and activation and sampling network, Blobfish International, are aiming to cut through Melbourne’s busy tourist season with the Aperol gondola experience, bringing it back to the Yarra River for the second consecutive year

Blobfish, in partnership with Melbourne-based boat company On A Boat, has wrapped 14 self-skippered boats and one skippered boat in Aperol’s signature orange, looking to to capitalise on Aperol’s reputation as a popular summer beverage while pay homaging to the aperitif’s Italian heritage.

See also: The Aperol gondola returns to Melbourne’s Yarra River via Blobfish and Mindshare

During the festive season of 2023, Pernod Ricard positioned itself to dominate the at-home entertainment space by tapping into the trending spirit of the season: tequila.

The brand’s Emergency Lime Baubles campaign played on the fact that, apparently, nearly two-thirds of consumers will find themselves lacking the limes they need for at-home margaritas. 

See also: Margaritas are in, Aperol spritz and espresso martinis are out as Pernod Ricard’s Altos Tequila seeks to own at-home cocktails

PHD - Elyse Foley
Elyse Foley returns to PHD Sydney as head of Planning & Effectiveness

Foley returns to PHD from Initiative, where she was group business director and head of Employee Experience.

PHD Australia welcomed Elyse Foley as head of Planning & Effectiveness at the agency’s Sydney office.

Foley brings more than a decade of client leadership experience and a strong planning background; she returns to PHD from Initiative, where she was group business director and head of Employee Experience.

Prior to her move, she had been with PHD for more than five years. Foley has worked across a range of clients, including PepsiCo, AfterPay, Unilever, IAG and Goodman Fielder.

Her role will see her responsible for nurturing PHD’s planning community, by linking strategic thinking and media planning, using its proprietary platform OMNI, which powers the agency’s best in class tools to drive channel planning that creates real results for clients.

Foley will commence in her new role on Monday, 12th February, succeeding from Alex Williams, who exits the role from PHD for a new opportunity.

Coyle welcomed Foley’s appointment and said her experience with PHD makes her a perfect fit for the role.

“The appointment of Elyse marks a renewed focus on what makes us the market-leading planning agency. I’d also like to thank Alex for his contribution to the planning product and wider agency during his time with PHD.”

Foley said she was excited to be returning to PHD and noted that the agency has always stood out to her because of its leadership team, market leading product and tools, a robust, science backed approach to planning and genuine authentic people.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to lead the talented and passionate planning team to deliver great work and create a meaningful impact for clients.”

Foley’s return to PHD comes after the agency announced it won was appointed as the media agency of record for frozen food company McCain, following a competitive pitch late last year.

See also: PHD Australia wins McCain

Top image: Elyse Foley

Gerety Awards 2024 executive jury announced
The Gerety Awards reveals Australian jurors for 2024 awards

Mandie van der Merwe: “It’s time to hear from people like me – to debate, curate and, ultimately, celebrate the work that resonates with a female audience.”

The Gerety Awards has unveiled its complete Australia and New Zealand jury lineup, headed by he Mandie van der Merwe, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia.

Van der Merwe said,“The opportunity to be the AUNZ regional ambassador for the Gerety Awards is not only an honour but a privilege. Together with a diverse and dynamic set of female creatives, we will enjoy a judging experience that is unlike any other award show – judging best-in-class global work, with an all-female jury.

“I’ve spent so much of my career in rooms with creative men, hearing a predominantly male perspective on what makes a good piece of work.  Now it’s time to hear from people like me – to debate, curate and, ultimately, celebrate the work that resonates with a female audience.

“Given the incredible purchasing power of women and the dominant role we play as primary decision-makers in billions of households worldwide, the work we award has real value to the brands and clients we work with every day. We are awarding creativity that matters to women and their wallets.”

The AUNZ executive jury also features Dhivia Pillai from Leo Burnett Melbourne, Katarina Matic from Bullfrog, Lizzie Wood from The Monkeys, Isabel Snellen from Colenso BBDO New Zealand, Ros Horner from AKQA Australia, Leisa Ilander from Dentsu Creative Australia, Katrina Alvarez-Jarratt from TBWA/Sydney Australia, Brodie King from Clemenger BBDO Australia, and Veronica Copestake from DDB Aotearoa New Zealand.

Named for Frances Gerety, the copywriter who in 1948 coined the slogan “A diamond is forever”, The Gerety Awards brings together a jury to select the best in advertising from a “powerful perspective”, aiming to create a benchmark that is relevant to the market reality, and challenging the standard to which advertising has traditionally been held.

See also: Saatchi & Saatchi’s Mandie van der Merwe to lead AUNZ jury for 2024 Gerety Awards

BBC Studios
BBC Studios survey reveals 18% of Australians confident they have not fallen for fake news

The survey explores Australians’ attitudes towards verifying news stories and the role of AI in spreading misinformation.

Only 18% of Australians consider themselves to have never been fooled by AI-generated content or fake news, according to a survey by BBC Studios.

The survey explored Australians’ attitudes towards verifying news stories and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in spreading misinformation.

It found 9% identified an instance of having been tricked by unreal content, while 73% said they could not determine whether they had been fooled by AI-generated content or fake news.

The survey also revealed that only 39% of respondents said they feel well-informed about how to spot fake news, and more than half (53%) said they do not think they could identify a news article created using AI.

Artificial Intelligence

The BBC Studios data found that Australians have mixed feelings toward AI’s impact on society with 37% believing that it has a positive impact on society and 43% considering the impact to be negative.

The majority (70%) agreed that AI amplifies the spread of misinformation in news, while almost two-thirds (64%) said they are not likely to trust news sources, which indicates that they use AI to generate stories.

News Verification

The BBC study found that Australians are being conscious of sharing unverified headlines and news stories on their own social and chat accounts, with 83% of Australians regularly use a secondary source to check news stories and breaking news unfamiliar to them

Trusted Sources

The survey found 72% of respondents in agreed that mainstream international media organisations are considered the most reliable source of accurate news stories.

Local and national media organisations also rated highly, whilst news aggregators (11%) and search engines (17%) were amongst those rated poorly as sources of accurate news. Less than 3.5% consider social media outlets to be reliable news sources and the least trusted is celebrities, with less than 0.5% considering them a reliable source. 

BBC - fake news graph

Jamie Chambers, BBC Studios’ VP, Australia & New Zealand Ad Sales said the finding show a high level of concern about the spread of misinformation and role that new technologies play in the importance of verifying news stories.

“This feels even more significant in a year when half of the world’s voting age public could be partaking in elections and the role media & news publishers will play during these moments.

Chambers also noted that the research echoes prominent recent findings such as from the Edelman Trust Barometer that highlight the public’s concerns about rapid innovation, and in particular the impact AI may have on society.

“The role of media during elections, increased risk of AI and heightened need for unbiased, trusted journalism offers a great platform for the BBC to showcase its value to audiences. Against the coming wave of generative AI, the BBC provides audiences with accurate, impartial information to navigate the rise in disinformation and shows audiences exactly what we know and how we know it through BBC Verify,” she said.

“It’s equally important to be transparent about what we aren’t able to verify, so audiences have all the information they need. This transparency is a vital part of our relationship with audiences and is paramount for our commercial partners, who in turn will enjoy the value that a trusted, premium environment delivers for their advertising campaigns,” Chambers added.

SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator
SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator winners named for 2024

The initiative is run in partnership with SBS, Screen Australia, and state screen agencies

Chosen from hundreds of submissions, six screenwriters have been selected for the third year of the SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator. 

Throughout the year, the screenwriters will each join an Australian production company for a year of paid employment.

The initiative is run in partnership with SBS, Screen Australia, and state screen agencies Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screenwest, the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and VicScreen, and with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild.

The SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator is a nationwide industry initiative supporting the development of under-represented screenwriting talent in Australia. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; people who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or with disability; people who are female or gender diverse; people who identify as LGBTQIA+; and people located in regional and remote areas.

The successful writers selected and the production companies they are joining in 2024 are:

• NSW: Siobhan Domingo joins Endemol Shine Australia, supported by Screen NSW
• QLD:  Rhianna Malezer joins Orange Entertainment Co, supported by Screen Queensland
• SA:  Emily Steel joins Kojo Studios, supported by the South Australian Film Corporation
• TAS: Shauna O’Meara joins TAP (Tony Ayres Productions), supported by Screen Tasmania
• VIC: Michael Hudson joins Kindling Pictures, supported by VicScreen
• WA: Lata Periakarpan joins Curio Pictures, supported by Screenwest.

Catherine Kelleher, development executive, SBS Scripted, said: “The Emerging Writers’ Incubator reflects our commitment at SBS to invest, support and elevate new voices and an increasingly inclusive sector. Congratulations to the shortlisted candidates and to the six emerging writers selected for the third year of this initiative. These writers all bring unique perspectives to their work and reflect voices and experiences that are historically under-represented. We’ve seen the benefits that the initiative brings to both the writers involved, and the production companies they join. It is fantastic to be working with our partners as we grow and develop the future of Australian storytelling. We can’t wait to see the impact they’ll have as they continue their careers.”

The following applicants were shortlisted: 

• NSW: Emily Dash, Jacob Melamed and Emma Meyers
• QLD: Annisa Belonogoff, Katrina Irawati Graham and Wendy Mocke
• SA: Alexis West, Stephanie Jaclyn and Jamie Hornsby
• TAS: Chloe Black, Anthea Pritchard and Caitlin Richardson
• VIC: Fury, Holly Tosi and Tim Williams
• WA: Grace Chow and Zac James

The six writers who were selected in last year’s round have undertaken placements around the country during 2022/23, with Becki Bouchier at Sweetshop & Green (supported by VicScreen), Elena Carapetis at Highview Productions (supported by SAFC), Kelli Cross at Easy Tiger (supported by Screenwest), Patrick Hogan at Brindle Films (supported by Screen Territory), Skye Leon at Jungle (supported by Screen NSW), and Aven Yap at Hoodlum Entertainment (supported by Screen Queensland).

Top Image:

Top (L-R): Shauna O’Meara, Siobhan Domingo, Lata Periakarpan
Bottom (L-R) Michael Hudson, Emily Steel, Rhianna Malezer

Initiative Australia pro-bono campaign for 'Splash the Stigma' fundraiser by youth mental health charity, batyr
Initiative Australia support youth mental health charity, batyr with pro-bono campaign

“A chance for us to meaningfully contribute to the worthy cause of youth mental health.”

Initiative Australia has partnered with youth mental health charity Batyr to support its annual fundraising challenge, Splash the Stigma

Driving this year’s Splash the Stigma challenge is batyr’s goal to prevent young people from reaching the point of crisis. Tragically, suicide remains the leading cause of death of young people in Australia, and rates of psychological distress have increased in the last decade.

The annual fundraiser, a drive to “turn the tide on mental health,” kicks off this month, returning for its fifth year. batyr is also partnering again with cult swimwear brand Budgy Smuggler and Swimming Australia.

Initiative secured free media spots across a selection of media channels in a bid to drive awareness and encourage consumers to sign up for the challenge.

Media partners include Nine, Seven West Media, Paramount, Nova, ARN, ATN, JCDecaux, Alliance Outdoor Media Group, oOh!Media, Workplace Media, Val Morgan Outdoor, Tonic Media, Motio, The Media Shop, Pedestrian Group, Are Media, News Corp, Playground XYZ, and Concrete Playground.

Initiative’s Olivia Coxon, senior partnerships executive, said, “Supporting the Splash the Stigma campaign in 2024 is a chance for us to meaningfully contribute to the worthy cause of youth mental health. We were blown away by how enthusiastic the industry was about helping batyr.

“With the media community’s generosity, batyr will be able to continue to deliver their life-changing in-school and in-uni education programs, helping our young people to better understand and look after their mental health.”

In recent news, Initiative Melbourne has appointed Steph O’Donnell as head of investment, joining Melbourne’s Senior Leadership Team and reporting directly to chief partnerships and innvestment officer Paige Wheaton.

O’Donnell will be tasked with crafting and leading the investment product across the entire investment ecosystem, leveraging the agency’s strengths and products to create value for clients.

See also: Initiative Melbourne welcomes Steph O’Donnell as head of investment

Jason O’Donnell, managing director of DEPT Australia
DEPT lands IWC and Pit Viper accounts as it expands local presence

“Well-positioned to continue making waves.”

Global digital agency DEPT has announced the addition of two new clients, luxury Swiss watchmaker IWC and eyewear brand Pit Viper, to its expanding roster in Australia.

These partnerships mark a strategic move into Web3 and an extension of DEPT’s global media strategy footprint.

See also: Opting in, web3, and holding attention: The future of digital marketing with Suzie Cardwell

The account expansion comes on the heels of a successful launch year in Australia, solidifying its position as a key player in the APAC region. With offices in Sydney and Melbourne and a workforce exceeding 150, DEPT has established itself as a strategic and innovative hub delivering digital solutions tailored to client needs.

DEPT, a technology and marketing services company, crafts integrated digital experiences for brands like Google, KFC, Audi, and others. The Climate Neutral and B Corporation certified company that employs over 4,000 specialists across 30 locations worldwide.

The collaboration between DEPT and IWC aims to bolster the watchmaker’s online presence through immersive digital experiences, emphasising IWC’s dedication to innovation and excellence.

Meanwhile, DEPT is tasked with localising Pit Viper’s media strategy to resonate with diverse global audiences. Known for its bold and unapologetic approach, Pit Viper’s mission is encapsulated in the statement “Pit Viper is here to party.”

See also: Specsavers debuts ‘Should’ve Gone to Specsavers’ ad contest winner at Flickerfest

DEPT will implement an integrated approach including paid search, programmatic, paid social, affiliates, and Shopify to enhance Pit Viper’s online visibility.

See also: HypeAuditor launches Shopify integration to automate influencer campaigns

Jason O’Donnell, managing director of DEPT Australia, said: “With a proven track record of delivering transformative digital solutions, DEPT is well-positioned to continue making waves in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.

“These partnerships underscore DEPT’s expertise in crafting tailored solutions for global clients, highlighting our ability to excel in the complexities of the global digital landscape.”

Top Image: Jason O’Donnell

CX - Lavender
CX Lavender wins Scenic World and InterHealthcare

The new business wins join the agency’s growing portfolio including BlueScope Australia and Headspace.

CX Lavender has welcomed two new business wins, Blue Mountains tourist attraction Scenic World and general practice allied health network InterHealthcare.

CXL CEO Adam Washington said the agency has continued its investment in data science and technical development to ensure growth for its clients. 

“It’s great to see the market continuing to respond as we welcome our two new client partners today,” Washington added.

Operating in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains since 1945, Scenic World’s famous glass-bottom cable car and world’s steepest railway attract national and global tourism each year. CXL’s digital CX engagement will support evolving customer promotion, planning and the business’s growing commerce needs.

InterHealthcare, a leading allied health network with diverse practice brands and approximately 70 locations, has appointed CXL to support the digital transformation of its clinics, including digital CRM, customer lifecycle and technical API, and platform development across its allied health partner practices.

Axel Moline, head of marketing at Scenic World, said: “Our global audience expects us to deliver a world-class digital customer experience. To achieve that consistently, we needed a partner with world-class CX expertise, and we’ve found this in the CXL team.”

InterHealthcare brand manager Kylie Wilkinson said: “Finding an agency with both an expert strategic approach and enough technical capability breadth was key in bringing digital transformation work streams together across our network. CXL has demonstrated both and we are excited by the potential the partnership presents.”

The appointments follow CX Lavender’s win of BlueScope Australia last year. The agency will provide digital strategy, UX, design and technical development services across BlueScope brands, including BlueScope Steel, TRUECORE® steel, COLORBOND® steel and more.

CXL also won the creative strategy account for youth mental health agency Headspace last year.

CXL provides end-to-end services via its 70+ Sydney-based team, offering research, creative and digital strategy, creative, product design, technical development and data-lead optimisation.
Its current clients include Westpac, National Broadband Network, Stockland, Audi, GameStop, News Corp, St. George, RAA and American Express.

See also: CX Lavender wins BlueScope Australia’s digital services account

Jayden Eden Confessions Week MAFS
TV Report February 6, 2024: Married at First Sight confession stuns new bride

The second last day of auditions on Australian Idol.

• Jayden goes all in during the Letter Writing task on MAFS 
• Two Immunity Idols found on Australian Survivor


Nine’s A Current Affair put the spotlight on the search for the missing mum of three, Samantha Murphy, who left for a morning jog in Victoria’s west and vanished. Authorities are now searching dense bushland in the Canadian State Forest.

Then, it was the start of Confessions Week on Married at First Sight as the couples took a big step in their relationship by moving in together. The Experts then gave them the Letter Writing task, where they were asked to open up to their partner and reveal something personal.

Eden and Jayden were the first to take on the task, with Jayden confessing that after his ex-girlfriend cheated on him, he was “willing to give her another chance” only if he could sleep with one of her best friends while she watched and one of her friends agreed to do it. Naturally, Eden was disgusted, calling the act “gross” but when she asked him if he “regretted it”, Jayden said he didn’t.

Meanwhile, Natalie returned to the experiment after leaving the MAFS Dinner Party the night before — much to her husband Collins‘ surprise.


Over on Seven’s Home and Away, Mackenzie and Levi were drawn together while Harper felt alone and Remi and Eden got shocking news.

Then, it was the second last day of auditions on Australian Idol and the judges saw the most outstanding crop of singers yet. Nerves almost sabotaged the chance of a lifetime while a teen showed talent way beyond her years and a family band broke rank.

23-year-old Prayer Corby from Humpty Doo, NT, finished her audition of Big Jet Plane by Angus and Julia Stone, admitting she wasn’t happy with her performance; however, judges Marcia Hines, Kyle Sandilands and Amy Shark loved it.

Kiani Smith, 17 from Bribie Island, Queensland, earned a Golden Ticket after her unique performance of 2002 by Anne-Marie and 20-year-old singer Eli Parr, from Brisbane —who was the sole family member to go through after auditioning alongside his two brothers and cousin singing Story Of My Life by One Direction.  


On 10The Project welcomed Melanie Bracewell to the desk who has been home in New Zealand for the Summer and the panel looked at the inspiring story of Cat Janice, who when she found out the sarcoma she had been battling was terminal, wrote Dance You Outta My Head so that the royalties could be paid to her son and thanks to the internet, her dream became a reality.

Then, it was time for Australian Survivor where Hurricane Kelli’s arrival confused the Titan’s tribe, and though she believed she was playing her saboteur role well, everyone was suspicious.

Meanwhile, the silence her departure created on the Rebels side meant her old teammates finally could get a good night’s sleep, it also affords Feras the clarity to find a hidden Immunity Idol. Mark too finds an Idol – after hurriedly breaking open the hidden treasure box before Kelli’s ramblings can reveal the box is real.

Despite Kelli’s mission to throw the Immunity Challenge for the Titans, she elects to sit out – but the Rebels win without her assistance anyway. Nathan is the obvious target to all for elimination, but a surprise attempt at a blindside on a key player has a lot of them rethinking their strategy.


ABC’s 7.30 looked at the Reserve Bank which has kept interest rates on hold and Sarah Ferguson interviewed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Then, Tom Gleeson put superfans to the test on Hard Quiz. This week they went head-to-head with Godzilla, Marilyn Monroe, Swan Lake, and the whale shark. 

The Weekly with Charlie Pickering was up next, back for its 10th Season, followed by UK drama This Is Going to Hurt where Adam was juggling his personal life with his hectic job on the labour ward. He meets new recruit Shruti; however, he is not the mentor she might have been hoping for.


Over on SBS, Scottish Islands with Ben Fogle saw the host travel to Arran and Holy Isle, learning how they’re a haven for diverse faiths and beliefs, making Jewish Challah bread and visiting a Buddhist Peace Centre.

Then in the documentary Shackleton’s Endurance: Lost Ship Found, we took an in-depth look at a thrilling recent discovery as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s long-lost ship Endurance was finally found more than a century after it was trapped in polar ice and sank into the frigid waters of the Antarctic. 

Business of Media

Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz take on Seek in regional Australia

Former Domain chief executive Antony Catalano and billionaire Alex Waislitz have tapped Lewis Romano, the founder of SpotJobs and ASX-listed Credit Clear, to build out a regional competitor to $9 billion listed jobs giant Seek, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Due to launch in early March, ViewJobs will be heavily promoted by the 75-odd publications in Catalano and Waislitz’ Australian Community Media empire. There is a clear gap in the regional market, Romano and Catalano say.

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Australian streaming quotas could violate US free trade agreement, tech giants warn

A showdown is emerging between streaming giants and the Albanese government over proposed local content quotas, with warnings that such a move could breach Australia’s free trade agreement with the US, reports The Australian’s Jared Lynch

The government intends to introduce new laws that will force streaming providers such as Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to spend up to 20 per cent of revenue generated in Australia on local content.

The government aims to ensure Australian stories still appear on Australian screens as more viewers shift to streaming services, which unlike traditional broadcast media do not have any local content regulations.

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Australian journalists abandon X in wake of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, survey shows

Australian journalists are abandoning Twitter, now called X, with professional usage of the social media site now overshadowed by Instagram and LinkedIn, reports The Guardian’s Amanda Meade.

A survey of more than 800 Australian journalists found that 10% deleted or ignored their accounts professionally last year and a further 26% said they still had an X account but rarely used it for work.

In the same year the Elon Musk-owned platform was rebranded X and the distinctive bird logo was banished, media organisations began to distance themselves from the social media platform.

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Tucker Carlson says he is interviewing Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin will sit down for his first interview with an American outlet in three years … with Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host. Carlson announced the interview on X on Tuesday, accusing other media outlets of being corrupt in their coverage of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

“Since the day the war in Ukraine began, American media outlets have spoken to scores of people from Ukraine, and they have done scores of interviews with Ukrainian President Zelensky,” Carlson said in a video posted to his X account. “We ourselves have put in a request for an interview with Zelensky. We hope he accepts, but the interviews he’s already done in the United States are not traditional interviews, they are fawning pep sessions.”

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‘The GOAT’: Ross Gittins chalks up 50 years in economics journalism

The Sydney Morning Herald’s celebrated economics editor Ross Gittins has reached 50 years in journalism, with a swag of senior policymakers and economists hailing his contribution to Australia’s public life, report Nine Publishing’s Matt Wade and Clancy Yeates.

When Gittins started work as a Herald journalist in February 1974 Gough Whitlam was prime minister, a typical worker was paid $119 a week, the value of the Australian dollar was set by a committee of bureaucrats, three-quarters of full-time jobs were held by men and Sydney’s median house price was about $30,000.

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Spotify swings to loss as it adds 200,000 audiobooks to paid service

Spotify’s push beyond music has tipped the streaming service into the red again, after it acquired the rights to 200,000 audiobooks for premium subscribers, with Prince Harry’s autobiography and comedian David Mitchell’s Unruly proving to be among the most popular with listeners, reports The Guardian’s Mark Sweney.

The world’s biggest music streaming service, which has been offering 15 hours of free audiobook listening a month to premium subscribers in the UK, Australia and the US since October, said related start-up costs contributed to a €75m (£64m) operating loss in the fourth quarter.

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US Grammy audience jumps to 16.9 million

Award shows are in their rebound era. The Grammy Awards notched 16.9 million viewers on Sunday night, a 34 percent increase from last year’s ceremony, according to Nielsen and CBS, which aired the show. It was the most-watched Grammy Awards since the 2020 ceremony, shortly before the pandemic — and up significantly from 2021, when only 8.8 million people watched, reports The New York Times’ John Koblin.

Sunday night’s telecast, hosted by Trevor Noah, had plenty of star power, with Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish and Beyoncé all making appearances. Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell dazzled critics with rare television performances.

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Queensland is gearing up for a showcase of star power as the Gold Coast readies the red carpet for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, affectionately dubbed the ‘Oscars of Australia’ on February 10, reports News Corp’s Georgia Clelland.

The AACTA Awards and the AACTA Industry Awards, both by the Foxtel Group, are set to light up the Home of the Arts (HOTA), turning Surfers Paradise into the epicentre of the Australian screen industry for one magical weekend.

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$7 Million for 30 Seconds? To advertisers, the Super Bowl is worth it.

A cat meowing for Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Peyton Manning chucking Bud Light beers to patrons in a bar and Kris Jenner stacking Oreo cookies. They all have one thing in common: Those companies paid seven figures to get their products in front of viewers during this year’s Super Bowl, reports The New York Times’ Santul Nerkar.

For the second consecutive year, the average cost of a 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl was $7 million. Even as many businesses are being more disciplined with the money they have for marketing, and with spending on advertising slowing in recent years, the cost of a Super Bowl ad continues to go up.

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