State of the Nation: Nine’s Jo Clasby on the commercial value of Sustainability

Jo Clasby

“Our brands pride themselves on honesty, transparency, accountability, and integrity.”

Key industry players gathered for Nine’s State of the Nation Sustainability virtual event on Wednesday.

The event comes after new research from Nine and leading market research company, Crowd.DNA, revealed Australians embrace brands who provide leadership on climate change.

The research showed that despite everyday Australians making changes to live more sustainably, the majority feel that as a country, we are not doing enough, and brands need to lead the way.

Mediaweek caught up with Jo Clasby, director of sales total publishing at Nine, to talk about the event and the slate of content initiatives that the company announced.

“From a publishing perspective, we really wanted to create a series that could position us as a thought leadership in the market.” Clasby told Mediaweek. “We’ve got such a range of expertise within the business and in conjunction with our clients and business owners we wanted to bring this to the forefront and have that conversation.”

This was the third State of the Nation event, with the first two happening last year, the first was for finance and the second was for travel. Clasby said that sustainability was a very relevant topic for the third happening of the event.

“It was really successful last year with finance. Travel was more conversational, it was a category that was on its knees so it was more of rebuilding that. Sustainability is so topical right now, going from bushfires a couple of years ago to now floods, it’s definitely on the tip of everyone’s tongue but no one really knows where to start. We wanted to be able to have that conversation and bring it to the forefront with some other businesses to give them the confidence to start somewhere. It’s all about progress not perfection.”

Nine State of the Nation

When asked about how valuable tackling a topic like sustainability is from a commercial point of view, Clasby said that it aligns with what Nine’s advertisers want to talk about.

“Our brands pride themselves on honesty, transparency, accountability, and integrity. And that’s what we do from a publishing perspective. It aligns exactly with what people are expecting from a sustainability perspective. Brands are wanting to talk about it, they are wanting to know what we’re doing about it. They want to know where they can start their journey, and it’s coming up in a lot of our commercial briefs at the moment. Off the back of this, this is why we wanted to create commercial propositions that we could actually go to market with and give brands the confidence around aligning to the content that people want to hear about.”

Nine announced a series of initiatives which include a new editorial reporting franchise in The Australian Financial Review called Carbon Challenge that will put in focus sustainability; a dedicated feature with the Money section of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age called Clean Capital that will explore all things ESG (environmental, social governance).

In addition is a podcast series Leaders for the Future from The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age, and a Please Explain sustainability series across the metro mastheads (SMH, The Age, WAToday, Brisbane Times).

“Our publishing division has been talking about it for for a number of years,” said Clasby. “This isn’t anything new to them. From a commercial perspective, we’re just bringing it to the forefront and allowing brands to be in a contextually relevant environment. It gives people the confidence that other people are doing things that they can learn from as well. It will get people talking about it and give them the confidence that we’re going to build better outcomes for future Australians.”

When asked about the value of pitching these type of campaigns across the variety of different mediums in the Nine stable, Clasby said that it is valuable because it gives consumers and advertisers a one stop shop.

“We are Australia’s leading media company. We work incredibly well internally with the other business units, thats part of my job to work with the other steakholders across the business to get a better outcome for our commercial clients. Very rarely do they want to only brief us on individual silos, they want to brief us holistically together because they will get a better outcome for that if their messaging is seen to be consistent across all media.”

When asked what she hoped that this latest State of the Nation achieved, Clasby said that she hoped it was giving people the confidence to create small steps for change.

“From a personal perspective, I’m certainly invested in a better future for my kids. Hopefully, for advertisers, it will give them the confidence to come forward to demonstrate what their businesses are doing in this area. Everyone is nervous about having the conversation and everyone’s nervous about saying what they’re actually doing in this area. Hopefully, that will demonstrate it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to start somewhere.”

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