“The original LinkedIn” Ant Colreavy on the importance of relationships

Ant Colreavy

• The chairman of the IMAA and Sandbox Media talks independent media agencies in Australia

IMAA chairman and Sandbox Media chairman Ant Colreavy has a lot to celebrate with the IMAA making a series of bold moves and announcements including announcing a trade credit insurance group deal, and the company that he founded Sandbox Media enjoying its tenth year in operation.

“We’re 10 years old which is a good achievement. We plan on having a bit of a celebration in a couple of months, which will be nice, with past and present clients and media folk. We’ve been around for 10 years although I’ve been in the industry for 25 years. I was actually supply side or media side for 15 of those years, and then the last 10 years worked on Sandbox Media Australia and New Zealand,” Colreavy told Mediaweek.

When asked why he chose to be so involved with the IMAA, Colreavy drew parallels to why he originally launched Sandbox Media.

“My cousin always jokes that I was the original LinkedIn, face-to-face, catching up with people, swapping business cards and having a beer.

“So for me, starting up the agency was just the next step from one, having all these contacts in the media landscape, and two, having the experience of working media side and having these great clients that have been with me for so long.

“When all the independents got together at an event that Nova put on, it allowed us to collaborate, and we all got along really well, we shared ideas and concepts, and it brought me back to my networking days of my networking business.

“Being one of the original founders of the IMAA, it’s given me that passion of bringing people together and making life and business more enjoyable and simpler. It reinvigorated me I guess, from being in the industry for that long, it’s allowed me to help give back a little bit.”

While Colreavy said that a lot of good things are in the pipeline that will help all independents, the best thing that’s happening at the moment is that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is flying the Australian flag and saying buy Australian.

“That’s what we are, we’re independent owners, we’re 100% Australian owned, and it’s about keeping the money in Australia in the media landscape. There’s going to be opportunities for small businesses, because we are small to medium-sized businesses in the scale of things against the multinationals, and we’re going to give our members the opportunity to save money with some of our biggest overheads. Like trade credit insurance, like education, recruitment. There are a few things that we’re looking into as a body to really ensure that all of our members benefit at a greater level.

We’ve got a buddy system in place at the moment, which I think is really good. It’s a buddy system where the leadership team take on all new members that come on board, we get allocated a new agency and we essentially are their buddy for that year. It allows them to pick our brains and really help out, to give advice on systems, processes, better ways to help them out within their business in the industry. That in itself is just so rewarding to me, to be able to help these smaller agencies or new agencies in the industry find their feet.”

Sandbox Media

Sandbox Media has an impressive list of foundation clients which include Luna Park, Krispy Kreme donuts, Australian Institute of Fitness, Event Cinemas, and Glue Store and it has recently added retirement-aged care company LDK, Acer computers, and re-signed Cannon Australia.

“When I was media side, it’s about relationships. We really treat our clients… like these guys are now my long-standing friends, I’ve been working with some of them for 20 years. 

“At the end of the day if we’re going to talk the talk we need to walk the walk, so we’ve been able to deliver that customer service at an independent level where we can be a little bit flexible in the way we approach things. We’re not tied to certain ways and systems and processes, we can be nimble and flexible. We know the rules we can play with because we’ve all come from media backgrounds, so we actually know the media sometimes better than the media knows themselves. ”

When asked about what Sandbox Media brings to the table Colreavy said that its about relationships and delivering results.

“We spend 80% of our lives working, so why not make it enjoyable? We’ve just got the right team in place to have the relationships with our clients, the relationships are there with the media, and the relationships are with each other within our team. No one ever leaves Sandbox Media. I just can’t highlight enough that it’s all about those relationships and maintaining relationships, and having real conversations. 

“As an owner and a founder of an agency in Australia, it is about creating that work/life balance. Before Covid, we actually had that work/life balance. We’ve got long-standing partnerships with our clients which means that we’ve just got a great team in play. I’m really proud of my team and I’m really proud of my clients and their loyalty that they continue to deliver year in year out.”

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