Australian ad industry ‘too vanilla’

Advertising in Australia is too vanilla and marketing directors are looking overseas for big bold ideas, a panel has told the Mumbrella 360 conference.

Marketing director for the Sydney Opera House Victoria Doidge said she looks to agencies for big bold ideas, and she doesn’t find them in Australia.

“I think most advertising is vanilla at the moment,” she said in the panel discussion moderated by  MEC chief strategy officer James Hier.

“Unless it’s engaging a conversation, unless it’s creative, unless I care enough to share, I’m going to ignore it, so many of us are probably working on campaigns that people aren’t even seeing.”

Doidge said she was eager to find fresh ideas and new ways of expressing them to get the community to engage in a conversation.

“So I’m always looking particularly in America and the UK and scouring the trade press in those countries for brands that do it really well because I don’t think there are a lot of examples in Australia,” she said.

Additional panelists Kevin Ramsdale, acting chief marketing officer at NAB, and Susan Massasso, Asia Pacific Marketing Director fro Campbell Arnotts, agreed.

“Safe is the new risk,” Ramsdale said. “You see a nicely constructed idea and you buy your space and it appears, and it’s just completely inert.

“That’s actually far more wasteful than doing something that’s edgy and doesn’t work.”

Ramsdale said putting the ingredients into a process does not always pay off, but  investing in creativity does.

“You’re better to push the boundary and invest your time in creativity it gets you a better outcome,” he said.

Doidge said agencies should bring big, creative ideas to clients and be pushing them to be brave.

And Massasso agreed: “I want them to give me an idea that I haven’t thought of myself and bring it to me in a way that has a bit of magic because there’s a lot of crap out there.”

Megan Reynolds 


  1. bob is a rabbit
    5 Jun 13
    2:01 pm

  2. Cop out from Marketers again not accepting responsibility for the brief – shit in, shit out.

  3. Kate Richardson
    5 Jun 13
    2:43 pm

  4. A good brief is essential, but the old marketing adage of “Give me a global first that has already had proven success” also springs to mind…

  5. Joey
    5 Jun 13
    3:31 pm

  6. Victoria Doidge is correct in part but I would also add that there are many very conservative clients out there who are either too scared to go with a “big, bold idea” or wouldn’t know one if it hit them on the head.

  7. Don't blame the agencies
    5 Jun 13
    6:33 pm

  8. The reason we’re not seeing this kind of stuff in Australia is because clients aren’t buying it. Not because it isn’t being presented. Ask any half-decent agency – I guarantee they have a stack of brilliant work that never got made.

    Perhaps you should lead the charge Victoria. Buy some top shelf work and other clients will follow.

  9. sidog
    5 Jun 13
    10:20 pm

  10. You could always challenge yourself to come up with a good idea instead of looking to copy the US / UK? its that mentality that is stopping innovation in australia.