Opinion | Features
- While many bemoan the lack of personalities in state and federal politics, Patrick O'Beirne asks whether it's the product of the 24-hour news cycle or the media habits of consumers. At a Melbourne Press Club function on the eve of the Victorian state election, The Australian’s local bureau chief Chip Le Grand asked Premier Denis Napthine where the charisma has gone in Victorian politics. The Premier, straying from his well-rehearsed script of policy commitments, shot back. Hard. “Where has the charisma gone?…I would ask you to look in the mirror. I think one of the reasons why there is perhaps a lack of charisma or lack of fun in politics is because of the coverage.” There’s not one single solution to the often underwhelming quality of political discourse in Australia. Is it the absence of true political leadership or even a sense of statesmanship from media representatives? Or the lack of a vision we can all embrace that fuels the public’s apathy towards our political representatives? Perhaps so. But there are other things we might consider when thinking about how our pollies and the media can raise the standard of political dialogue, underpinned by a stronger focus on policy rather than personality. The first consideration is structural. Like many large, long-term problems it’s only the major overhaul of entrenched systems that can enable meaningful change. Three layers of government in Australia means we make many political appointments from what is arguably a shallow talent pool. Could it be time to dust off the drafts for political reform and usher in a two-tier system of government, ensuring only the best and brightest earn the privilege of power? The second approach focuses on political communications and while it’s more tactical, it would certainly have immediate effect: don’t feed the beast. Political parties – sitting or otherwise – have an opportunity to drive the agenda by deciding how to run their media relations. The 24-hour news cycle, live news channels and social media have created a habit of putting someone up repeatedly each day, feeding more “he said-she said” coverage that lacks substance and analysis. The Federal Coalition Government tried this in its first year of term but seems to have fallen victim again to the insatiable thirst for the six-second sound bite. There’s also the option of bypassing the beast. Increasingly corporates and sporting bodies are turning to ‘owned’ channels to communicate to their audiences directly. If used in equal measure with good media and stakeholder engagement, the ‘corporate newsroom’ is an extremely effective way to get one’s story across by provoking ideas, driving debate and influencing outcomes. Just as critical is the need to get cut-through with your audience by applying more creative methods of engagement. There’s a range of ways to ensure the media reports important matters, even if they’re not considered newsworthy by current news values. Changing the messenger, creating a coalition of concerned allies, using research to add depth to an issue and giving a platform to the voting public to raise issues are just a few. Unlike Denis Napthine, I don’t point the finger entirely at the media for shallow reporting of key matters or for the lack of gravitas and vision among our political leaders. Indeed, there are plenty of commentators who do swim against the tide when it comes to promoting discussion on the issues that matter. Instead, perhaps it’s us – the general public – who should take more responsibility for what our media serves up. We buy and subscribe to the media that reports frivolously, and we put up with the dumbing down of issues of strategic importance to our nation. If the customer is always right, and if vanilla politics is the order of the day, maybe we should look in the mirror to see who’s ultimately responsible. Patrick O’Beirne is managing director of Haystac ANZ
- M&C Saatchi now has one of the biggest strategy departments in Australia as it moves to a more 'full service' approach for brands. Miranda Ward sat down with the agency's head of strategy Justin Graham to talk through the strategy behind it. M&C Saatchi has made no secret of the fact it has been beefing up its strategy and planning department over the last 12 months, however many in the industry were surprised to hear the agency's latest hire, Ross Berthinussen as group strategy director, had swelled the ranks of the team to 35. It's a move which has many wondering whether the agency is looking to put the genie back in the bottle and go 'full service'. "If clients are coming to us to solve business problems we want to be able to solve whatever problem that may be through the lens of creativity," said department head Justin Graham. "And it's not just advertising problems that get advertising solutions, that's where we have a point of differentiation in the market that we're all sitting here together in a central unit and we can deploy the resources as needed around those problems," Graham said when quizzed on if the beefed up strategy department signalled a change in the agency's positioning. "So yes, full service, working with our clients. Full service can mean anything these days, it might be new retail environments, it might be a social strategy or an implementation of that, it might be community management or brand design." The agency has not skimped on the talent it has gone after either, with Berthinussen coming from BBH London, hot on the heels of the agency picking up Kate Smithers in a similar role from Ogilvy & Mather in London. Led by Graham, who joined M&C from Droga5 at the end of last year, the strategy team now stands at 35, which includes 11 members of the innovation unit led by Ben Cooper. It emerged during the hotly contested Commonwealth Bank media pitch earlier this year that the strictly 'traditional' creative agency had ambitions in the media space, signalling its shifting positioning by throwing its hat into the ring as a contender. The move led to speculation that the agency was moving towards a full-service offering, with the beefed up the strategy department fuelling the rumours. But Graham remained coy when asked whether the agency is looking to hire media buyers. "I think we're all running towards what channel neutrality means for people," he said. "We need smart channel thinkers in here and we'll continue to think about what the means. Clients are leaning on us and asking for help and asking for us to lean in and work with the channel strategists that exist within media organisations because the lines are very much blurred. "The interesting thing is where we are now. It's not about media people coming into a creative agency or vice versa, it's actually about forming a new way of working," Graham continued. "For us, we have one very simple tool that we work with from a strategy point of view and that's getting down to a brutal, simplicity of truth. It's something that started right from Maurice (Saatchi, founder of M&C Saatchi) and the guys when they started the company and how that brutal simplicity of thought should be able to transcend a creative idea, a channel idea, whatever it might be. "The ideas we have in this business, the contagious ideas that we have been able to deliver, are as much about content as they are about context and we've the thinking to go and do that now. "We'll just continue to push where the opportunities are," Graham added. Coming into the agency in January, Graham spent time with CEO Jaimes Leggett and executive creative director Ben Welch in examining what the agency needed from its strategy department. "There's a lot of very strategic creative directors here and that's exciting to work with. But, what we didn't have was enough of the spark, enough of the rigour, enough of the forward thinking so we'd be steps ahead in terms of trends, business analysis, analysing data, whatever it might be to start in a better place and work with clients on more than just advertising problems," he said. "Coming to M&C Saatchi there was a big challenge, it was really recognised in this market as a really consistent operation. It's done some brilliant work over the years, it knows how to make some big brand platforms and protect those platforms. "Some great creative and account management but probably just not well known in the industry for its strategic offering, which is unusual because globally M&C Saatchi is known as being a great strategic agency," Graham said. He continued: "It was to say if clients are coming to us to solve business problems and those business problems are fairly meaty considering we work on some of the biggest brands in the country, certainly the most valuable brand in the country in Commbank, right down to some small brands that are looking for that leadership, then what would a talent pool look like that could work together on that." It was this that sparked the recent hiring spree to swell the strategic ranks. "It's been a real mix of bringing people together, and yes we have hired a number of strategists. I think we have picked up an unfair share of the best global talent, from a strategy perspective, coming in here," Graham said. "But that's purposeful as well because we have significant pieces of business that provide genuine challenges and I've been able to attract people who've been able to push what is a strategy offering in a big organisation these days." The massing of ranks has seen the formation of a central strategy unit within the M&C Saatchi group of agencies, able to work across the various agencies under the M&C Saatchi umbrella including Re, Sports and Entertainment, Lida and Mark. "M&C Saatchi has ten agencies sitting within these walls, with some core specialisations," Graham said. "What we've been able to do is say we've got a central strategy unit, a central creative unit and a central production unit. And the central strategy unit is where we house everyone who is thinking strategically around pieces of business whether they're brand planners or experience strategists or data strategists. "We have a strong customer engagement strategy offering which is coming through Lida, we have brand strategists in the purer sense, a number of people sitting within Re, our brand design agency. Then we have social strategists as well as social and content people," he summed up. Whilst the most recent additions to the strategy team have come from overseas - with Berthinussen being English and Smithers returning home after a long stint overseas - Graham is adamant it is not a sign of a lack of strategic talent locally. "I'm the vice chair of the APG (Account Planning Group) and I think there are some brilliant strategists here, some really pragmatic strategists," he said when asked on the issue. "There were a couple of needs we went after and it's always great when you have an Australian who wants to come home in the form of Kate Smither, or Sophie Ales and Ross Berthinussen is the BBH veteran and he's the one who wanted to come to Australia. "We've also hired a number of strategists from agencies here. Certainly, we've tipped more to the local market than globally. Part of this is we work with some big, iconic Australian brands," Graham said. Miranda Ward
- The telecast of the Aria Awards showed how good, and bad, brand integration can be argues Miranda Ward. Last night's Aria Awards might not have delivered a ratings win for the Ten Network, with only 574,000 metro viewers tuning in for the two-and-a-half hour show, however its red carpet special was largely a boon for brands and network talent. The coverage kicked off in earnest with a carefully constructed half-hour show which did much to flaunt the network's talent, as well as sponsor David Jones' ambassadors, melding interviews with the bevy of top musicians and celebrities attending the event whilst seamlessly dropping in other brand partners at key moments, in a way which didn't disturb the flow. [caption id="attachment_264943" align="alignright" width="234"] Cox and Tweedie on the red carpet[/caption] Network Ten drafted in some of its recognised entertainment and youth reporting faces for the event, pairing The Loop hosts Ash London and Scott Tweedie with former bachelorette Laurina Fleur and DJs ambassador Montana Cox respectively, with Cox and Tweedie taking care of the musos interviews and London and Fleur handling the fashion angle. Entertainment reporter Angela Bishop was farmed off to handle the 'veteran' performers on the carpet. Fleur seems to be becoming something of a regular for Ten, with her appearance on the red carpet follows her appearance on news quiz show 'Have You Been Paying Attention' and strongly hints that Ten are trialling her for a more permanent role with the network, although that could be in jeopardy following negative social media feedback on her debut hosting gig. While there were moments of awkwardness when Fleur spoke without a microphone or when Cox asked a star to "give us a twirl", the tight timing of the half-hour show ensured everything was kept short and sharp with quick cuts between the groups of hosts to ensure as many of the attendees were covered. Very professional. [caption id="attachment_264950" align="alignright" width="234"] Fleur and London on the red carpet[/caption] But, for me as an advertising writer, more interesting than the fashion and stars was the integration with the ad breaks, with the hosts throwing to ads featuring Aria nominated musicians. London and Fleur's interview with 20-year-old musician Martha Marlow, who lent her voice to Qantas' new brand campaign, was used to throw to a Qantas ad, and then a video of Marlow singing, a nicely integrated plug for the airline that was also a major sponsor of the event. Bishop also plugged the new Annie film for which Australian singer Sia arranged a number of the songs and recorded a cover of 'You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile'. Sia went on to win the top gong of the night, Album of the Year. However, the integration got somewhat clunkier once we left the red carpet. Telstra, the event's headline sponsor, hosted the 'Crash the Arias' platform which was dedicated to giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the awards show. It was promoted with crosses back-stage, including an awkward and obviously pre-planned attempt to "crash" Katy Perry's dressing room which was unsurprisingly devoid of the superstar singer, but lacked the sharpness and subtlety of the earlier efforts. While Qantas and David Jones will probably be looking back on the event as a success with their brands neatly intertwined with the effortless cool of the stars and didn't detract from what the night was all about - music, Telstra may well be wondering where it went wrong. Its "Crash the Arias" content integration was clunky and awkward, and felt more like a crowbarred in afterthought than something pre-planned to slot invisibly into the television broadcast and enhance the viewer's experience. It was not helped by the fact the awards weren't shown live creating a disjointed sensation amongst viewers following the official Twitter feed or the #crashthearias hashtag. On the upside, Ten's production of the red carpet showed media buyers just how the network can integrate brands, brand ambassadors and its own talent into coverage of events. It comes at a time when Ten is eager to please agencies with CEO Hamish McLennan making a very deliberate pitch to Australia’s media buyers to give his network a share of revenue equal to that of its audience at its annual upfronts earlier this month. But while the red carpet show proved what Ten has definitely got the wit to do it, its coverage of the Arias demonstrated how ugly it can also be. Miranda Ward is a journalist at Mumbrella
- In this cross-posting from The Conversation Stephen King of Monash University argues pursuing a digital strategy puts the ABC at greater risk of losing its point of difference.
Is the ABC trying to make itself redundant? Because that appears to be its strategy. Here’s why.
The ABC is expensive. In 2013 it was allocated more than A$1 billion of taxpayer funds. The ABC claims, however, that its real funding since 1985-86 has dropped by about one quarter. And the current federal government has cut further – A$120 million in the May budget and a further A$207 million over four years.
The ABC has responded with cutbacks in “niche” areas such as women’s sport and rural services and a renewed focus on internet-based services.
But with much traditional media “doing it tough”, should we care about the ABC? Or is it simply redundant?
Why do we have the ABC?
How is the ABC different from the commercial free-to-air broadcasters?
Under its Charter, the ABC focuses on the “Australian story”. It shows:
… programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community.But the commercial networks have similar obligations. The three primary commercial channels are each required to broadcast an annual minimum of 55% Australian content between the hours of 6am and midnight. In practice they exceed this requirement. Arguably the commercial networks tell the Australian story better than the ABC. In 2013, all of the top 20 programs on commercial television were Australian reality TV, sport or drama. Australian drama occupied five of the top 10 most-watched series. The problem with the ABC is not that it is unique. Its problem is that it is not unique enough. Is digital media the way forward for the ABC? The ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, suggests the ABC’s future is digital internet-based communication.
Competition in the media space is intensifying and audiences are asserting their power. The ABC needs to meet the surging audience demand for online and mobile services while, at the same time, securing and strengthening our grip in the traditional content areas. We must be the home of the Australian story and content across all platforms.This strategy is both misinformed and misguided. It is misinformed because, for most Australians, free-to-air television is still the dominant source of news and entertainment. Australians are spending less time in front of the television and more time in front of other screens, such as laptops and mobiles. But the shift is slow. In 2013, Australians watched an average of 96 hours of broadcast television each month, compared to just over five hours per month viewing video on a PC or laptop and a little over two hours on their mobiles and tablets. The strategy is misguided because any unique role of the ABC is eliminated on the internet. The ABC cannot uniquely tell the Australian story because thousands of Australians tell their story online every day, using blogs and social media. The ABC cannot differentiate itself as a source of quality news when it has thousands of internet competitors, including The New York Times and the BBC. If the ABC wants to make itself irrelevant and have increased pressure on its funding then it should concentrate on its digital strategy. Using the BBC as a model What is the alternative? The UK provides a good example of how to make public broadcasting work. The BBC is one of the world’s most respected broadcasters. And it is government-owned. It thrives because the UK television industry has been reformed. The BBC might appear to have a lot more competition than the ABC. In Australia, the government-owned ABC and SBS face off against three commercial broadcasters. In contrast, the UK, has around 60 channels, ranging from full-service commercial networks to highly specialised niche channels. However, the BBC has a unique position. Competitive reform in the UK allowed new entry and innovation in free-to-air television. It also focused the public service obligations, such as content requirements, on the BBC. Rather than being a “me too” network, the BBC has a mandate that is distinct from the commercial broadcasters. In contrast, free-to-air television in Australia has a commercial oligopoly that, with government assistance, prevents new competition despite there being plenty of spectrum available. The commercial networks claim that they need “protection” so they can meet their public service obligations, like Australian content. Fine! Remove most of the obligations and open up free-to-air television for new entry. Focus the obligations on the ABC and make the ABC truly unique. This would benefit viewers through increased choice and provide an ongoing rationale for the ABC. Funding Sensible reform of free-to-air television will help the ABC. But its funding will remain directly tied to government budgets. In contrast, the BBC’s funding is largely independent of government budget decisions. The UK has a “television licence” system with the majority of the licence revenue dedicated to funding the public broadcaster. While the government formally sets the fee, it does so after discussions with the BBC. And the BBC collects the licence revenue. Australia used to have a similar system. Between 1956 and 1974, the ABC was largely funded by television licences. The Whitlam government abolished the licence in 1974, leaving the ABC exposed to the whims of government funding. It is not clear that a dedicated ABC tax, whether applied as a television licence or funded in some other way, would be politically acceptable in Australia. But without independent funding, the ABC will face more cuts from all sides of politics in the future. The future of the ABC To have a future, the ABC needs to abandon its “me too” strategy. It needs to be unique. If it focuses on the internet, then it guarantees it will lose its uniqueness and its rationale. Rather than cutting back its unique services, the ABC needs to emphasise its uniqueness. The ABC needs to push for competitive reform of Australia’s free-to-air television broadcasting system so it can differentiate itself and its obligations. The commercial broadcasters will oppose reform. These broadcasters do not like sharing various public service obligations with the ABC. But they like competition even less. Real reform of free-to-air broadcasting will open up the spectrum to competition and create a lasting role for the ABC. Stephen King is professor in the department of economics at Monash university, and this article is based on work in progress by the Monash Business Policy Forum looking at media reform in Australia. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
- In a tongue in cheek rant Mark Tzintzis argues changing the media ownership laws will lead to more effective media planning. It’s no secret that Australian media ownership is one of the most concentrated in the world. Even with constraints in place such as the 75 per cent reach rule, or the 2 out of 3 media rule, we’re still way off other comparable Western democracies. The general feeling amongst articles that I’ve read is that this is a bad thing… which is ironic considering newspapers are the most concentrated medium in Australia. To be honest I’m not sure why, in 2014, this is even an issue. Aren’t we already too far down the rabbit hole to affect any meaningful competition - even if we wanted to? It seems to me that successive Australian governments, the ICCC, and by extension the Australian population by its tacit compliance, hates competition. News Corp Australia and Fairfax own 11 out of the 12 metro dailies, 72 per cent of all grocery dollars are spent in either Woolworths or Coles, and unfortunately “you should just Bing it” hasn’t really taken off in the Aussie vernacular, with Google holding a whopping 93 per cent share. In terms of competition, the media as an industry is small fry. Unlike the supermarket industry, or the new “evil empire” known as Google (someone had to replace the Soviet Union), there are two reasons why the media will be fine with added deregulation: 1. Anyone with an internet connection and two brain cells to rub together can technically be a “media owner”. Even with such concentration, Australians have never had more choice. 2. There is significant – for a lack of a better term – government intervention in the media sector by way of #ourABC to counterbalance media consolidation reaching dangerous levels. Before I get chased with pitchforks and burnt at the stake for my communist, anti-neoliberal views, let me just say I think Malcolm Turnbull would make a brilliant Prime Minister… OK, now that I have my credibility back, the fact that we have a strong, independent and – above all – impartial media juggernaut in that of the ABC, bodes well not only for Australian democracy but, perhaps ironically, for the cause of media deregulation. The ABC will not be influenced by a major shareholder; the ABC will not bow to advertiser demands; the ABC will be representative of the entire population. Contrary to what the “Team Australia” conservatives might say, a recent Newspoll survey found that 70 per cent of respondents have some/a lot of trust in ABC TV news and current affairs, compared to 48 per cent for the daily papers, and 41 per cent for commercial TV news. Even with the significant budget cuts that were just announced, the ABC will remain a strong force to be reckoned with. Judging by the public outcry and demonstrations in the streets this week, an apathetic electorate such as ours does have its limits. This ABC safety net points to a model that’s beneficial for all; a commercial media industry unburdened by outdated laws that is underpinned by a strong and impartial public broadcaster. From an agency perspective, deregulation will herald a renaissance-like era where the key objective will be to truly meet our clients’ needs, and not to work within the boundaries imposed by the media owner. Imagine a one stop shop (think a more evolved Powered by Nine) where we’ll be able to reach more than 75 per cent of the Australian population and implement truly cross-platform solutions for advertisers. Naysayers will point out that all the mergers will inevitably lead to less media owner competition, and as a result, less bargaining power for agencies. To that point I refer them to the quite bizarre quagmire that’s occurring at this very minute. For a population of 23 million, we have three commercial TV networks, all in (relatively) good shape. Do we need all three? Probably not but that’s the way it is. I don’t imagine with some deregulation, there’ll only be one or two big media companies left. For the industry as a whole, I believe it will make us more sophisticated and less conservative. Australia is frustratingly unadventurous as an advertising market – possibly because of the current regulations. By restructuring one half of the media equation (owners), it will force the other half (agencies) to adopt a different model where sponsorships, engagement and ideas are at the heart of everything we do, as opposed to boring TARP, R&F and CPM evaluations. Planners and traders will still do what they do best, but it will push them out of their comfort zone which is what is desperately needed. All in all, it’s truly misguided to fear change because change is inevitable; it is only progress that is optional. Mark Tzintzis is an account director at OMD Melbourne
- While the ABC cuts have focussed around traditional delivery mechanisms the investment in digital technology shapes the broadcaster for the future argue Brian McNair and Adam Swift in this cross-posting from The Conversation. While Australia’s elected representatives argue over what then-opposition leader Tony Abbott meant when he promised “no cuts to the ABC, or SBS” the night before the last election, directly to the electorate, while advertising himself as a leader who could be trusted not to break his promises, the cuts are in and the announcements of what form they will take at the ABC have been made. [caption id="attachment_264349" align="alignright" width="234"] McNair[/caption] Most had been heavily trailed last week, but now we know for sure that some 400 jobs will go because of these cuts. Regional facilities will be closed, services and programs will be cancelled or, in Lateline’s case, moved to ABC News 24. ABC websites will be rationalised, with 100 or so earmarked for the chop. State-based sports broadcasting will go, along with the state editions of 7.30. It’s a catastrophe for those ABC employees whose jobs are in the firing line. They will now prepare to join the ranks of the thousands let go by the commercial media in the last three years. Some will be redeployed, Scott assures his staff. Nonetheless, 10% is a big chunk of the workforce. Even if the emphasis will be on what are implied to be less-than-essential management and administration posts – in an attempt to limit the damage to content while responding to government claims that the ABC is flabby and inefficient – this is a major loss of human resources. But the ABC is bigger than its individual employees, and job cuts in themselves are sometimes necessary for the longer-term sustainability of such institutions. No sector, public service media included, is exempt from those processes. After all the speculation of recent months and weeks, then, after the leaks and the speeches, the lobbying by supporters and opponents of public service media and the pressures from government, where does this leave the ABC? Are we seeing a necessary step in the digitally driven rationalisation of a 20th-century analogue monster, necessary to make it fit for purpose in the 21st? Or is this the beginning of the end of the ABC as we know it? To listen to ABC managing director Mark Scott as he defended his decisions, there’s little doubt that he wants Australians to see these cuts and the changes they force on the ABC as the former - painful adjustments to changing realities, but in the end good for the public service patient. The ABC has successfully moved into 24-hour news and content streaming, Scott stresses, through ABC News 24 and iView – two developments which he is clearly very proud of and determined to build on. The future is online, and in real time, interactive and participatory, and it is bright. To signal the direction of change, the ABC will create a “Digital Network Division”. [caption id="attachment_264348" align="alignright" width="234"] Swift[/caption] With this strategy, Scott is following the template established by the BBC when faced with similar financial pressures in the last decade. This is to go on the offensive, resist the private competitors who dispute your right to play the online and 24-hour news game, and confirm without apology that your public service remit extends to the digital platforms increasingly used by Australian audiences for their TV and radio consumption. Play to the ABC’s popularity, in other words, and to the rise of a demographic for whom mobile platforms are more and more important as a source of news, information, entertainment and every other form of content. The ABC should be about cutting-edge digital innovation if it is to retain its place at the heart of Australia’s cultural life. In all of this, Scott is articulating the only viable strategy for all public service media organisations – no retreat to the cultural ghetto demanded by the big private interests and their supporters in the News Corp media, but in the avant garde of digital innovation, harnessing its vast potential for public good. But if digital is the big winner in this round of cuts and restructuring, the big loser would appear to be the ABC’s regional infrastructure. Radio services are being closed in five locations. TV production in Adelaide (though not news and current affairs) is being wound down. The state editions of 7.30 will be replaced by a national current affairs magazine show in the same slot. The impression given is of a substantial thinning out of the rural and regional editorial resource base, and a creeping metro-centralism as more and more production is concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne. On the other hand, a new Regional Division is promised. This body, importantly led by someone who doesn’t live in Sydney, will play a strategic role in co-ordinating regional resources to improve coverage and content. As such, it is argued that the closure of a radio station in Nowra – or the axing of Radio National’s Bush Telegraph – is less important than the establishment of a new strategic approach which harnesses the power of digital technology to better serve the vast and sparsely populated Australian continent. This is a risky approach. It has already generated fierce criticism from those who fear any change as the thin end of an ideologically shaped wedge. Cutting state sports coverage is also going to be unpopular. However, Scott insists that these and other cuts will not damage the ABC’s capacity to fulfil its public service remit, within which the provision of quality regional and rural news and current affairs is a core element. Programs and schedules evolve all the time, for many reasons other than financial. Scott seems genuinely to believe that the democratising, decentralising, participatory potentials of digital tools will strengthen rural and regional services rather than undermine them. In the end, and with an anti-ABC government in charge, Australians who value public service have little choice but to trust Scott, whose personal and professional commitment to the public service media ethos is real. Having been confronted with a hostile government on the attack, Scott now faces his final challenge as managing director – to lead the ABC through implementation of these cuts in such a way that his positive vision of the future of Australian public service media is realised. Brian McNair is professor of journalism at Queensland University of Technology and Adam Swift is senior research associate at Queensland University of Technology This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
- Corporations are constantly tinkering with their brands, but in a world with so many touchpoints should they be less concerned with having a corporate logo asks Patrick Guerrera. In a world where personal brands, social media and an absolute plethora of content stretches into every waking moment of our lives, what role does a logo play in contemporary branding? There are simple answers: the ongoing interdependence between corporate reputation and corporate brand is always a consideration. The logo is the trust mark that symbolises the heritage and history of an organisation and its people to all their stakeholders, not just their customers. This symbol is a living artefact and signature of the organisation, its past and all its aspirations. But brands have never been more dynamic – they are moving and evolving before our eyes everyday. Channel-agnostic brand platforms are built and designed to stretch across a multitude of touch points and expressions – eagerly focused on delivering a truly differentiated “experience” for consumers, anytime and anywhere. So yes, an organisation’s logo or brand mark will continue to be the final distillation of all the brand’s attributes – the “signature” of a brand. Why? Because in contemporary marketing logos are the ultimate corporate arrogance. As millennials take their place as the great arbiters and influencers of consumer preference and sentiment, they are judging and shaping brands in real time. They embrace brands that are active and meaningful to them. By meaningful I mean enabling – helping them shape their future state. So brands can no longer afford to be overtly single-minded. They must be able to engage and sustain a whole range of different customer relationships. In a recent Harvard Business Review article Avery, Fournier & Wittenbraker (2014) introduce the challenge of relational intelligence to readers, suggesting companies “don't understand how many different kinds of relationships customers can have with brands, nor do they know how to reinforce or change those connections”. For us at Re we found this incredibly relevant and interesting because it echoes the challenges our clients face everyday. Apart from the ongoing repercussions of the shared economy on branding, we believe the construct of relational intelligence, is a significant lens to consider when embarking on any type of rebranding program. Sure, it is the intersection of CRM and brand, but this is what makes it so interesting. Avery, Fournier & Wittenbraker (HBR, 2014) outline 6 types of brand-customer relationships: Each are illustrated with some poignant examples, such as: “A team of Harley-Davidson employees, all motorcycle enthusiasts, spent time on the road with customers to develop the kind of intimacy that could cement Harley’s status as a best friend.” As brand practitioners, the danger here is not to over-simplify these insights as just simple communications tasks – that is, just targeting communications to different relational typologies. This is about ensuring that the brand strategy and its expression is flexible and broad enough, to connect and support the expectations of any of these typologies. This provides a significant lens for attribution definition as well as brand design, experience and communication. So maybe it’s not just the logo that is dead, maybe it’s the traditional corporate brand systems that are often governed within an inch of their lives? So is the logo really dead? Well no. We will always use logo’s because they are the ultimate identifier of an organisation. However, singular static corporate brand systems are now irrelevant. What replaces them is dynamic and living design systems that can flex and stretch and build experiences across a broad range of customer typologies and channels. This is why life in a branding agency has never been more exciting – we are constantly evolving and revitalizing the brands we create to ensure they are constantly compelling and relevant to the consumer. So the logo might be here to stay … but the corporate guideline document should go the way of the Dodo! Patrick Guerrera is Managing Director of M&C Saatchi’s Branding Consultancy Re.
- This morning ABC managing director Mark Scott announced how the public broadcaster plans to make a further $207m worth of savings in the next four years. Here is his statement in full. Dear Colleagues I have just completed a presentation to staff in ABC offices around the country, outlining a range of measures we propose to implement over the next few years. The initiatives are designed to reposition the ABC for its current and future challenges and to maintain a clear focus on our audience strategy and Charter obligations. I am aware that some of you may not have caught the address or are seeking further detail. This email is designed to provide more information about our plans. It sits alongside a statement released today by the ABC Board. In charting this new course, my thoughts go out firstly to those who face losing their jobs. As other companies in the media sector have found, structural change can have painful personal consequences. We anticipate that more than 400 people – close to 10 per cent of our ongoing workforce - face redundancy as we adjust our activities. We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who may lose their positions. My thanks go to everyone at the ABC for the patience, discipline and application they have displayed over a testing period. We have had to deal with the reality of cuts in the May budget, the speculation over the departmental study into the efficiency of the public broadcasters and the uncertainty surrounding the Government’s “down payment” strategy on further cuts. Like any responsible organisation, we have used our time constructively – taking heed of the departmental study and other inputs - to assess our activities and processes and to recalibrate on programming. We have had to wait for clarity on funding to complete the task. The proposals announced today form an integrated package: they are a whole-of-ABC response to our funding issues and our audience strategy. They recognise that programming cannot stay frozen and that our content divisions must regularly update their strategies and schedules; that audience dynamics drive reinvestment decisions and that repositioning necessitates tough decision-making and execution. Change is never easy for an institution that has so many stakeholders with a passionate interest in its work. But change is now a media industry constant and the one guarantee I can offer you is that change will remain a reality for the ABC. What I can say with confidence is that the resilience of the ABC and the professionalism of the staff will help build a stronger organisation, better-equipped to meet the audience challenges of the present and the future. ABC Funding The Government has confirmed that, in addition to the May 2014 budget cut of $120million, the ABC budget will be cut from July 2015 by a further $207 million over four years. The schedule of cuts outlined by the Government acknowledges that extracting efficiencies incurs a big upfront liability for the ABC in the form of redundancies and early transitional costs. We must fund these costs from our current funding allocation and asset base. Because the cuts are back-end loaded, in the latter years the accumulated impact to the ABC is over eight per cent a year. We face immediate work to meet the 2016-17 ask of more than $60 million. This target requires concerted, disciplined action to meet our twin challenges. We must make significant savings to ensure that our content is largely protected from external funding shocks. In a changing media landscape, we must also closely scrutinise our programming, shifting investment to strengthen our connection to audiences. Efficiency Savings Delivering efficiencies is not a new concept for the ABC. It is a legal responsibility of the ABC Board “to ensure the functions of the Corporation are performed efficiently and with the maximum benefit to the people of Australia”. We have applied ourselves diligently to the task over the years. We have used our efficiency savings to finance key initiatives like ABC News24 and iview. These initiatives have been critical to the development and relevance of the ABC at a time of intense competition in the media sector. In considering efficiencies, it is important to appreciate that: New technology changes what we can do and how It is a fast-changing media market place; and We need to ensure that our investments deliver value for money. Our aim in delivering the savings required by the Federal Government is to focus primarily on overheads and back-office functions. But, as I have stressed repeatedly over the past few months, there is no simple quarantining formula for cost-cutting. The very nature of the media business means that some savings inevitably impact content. The ABC must also focus on where and how it can best add value in its processes and content creation. We believe there are compelling business reasons to: Close our Adelaide television production studio and wind down remaining television production in smaller states. The economics of the television sector make it difficult to maintain small-scale operations. It is more economically efficient to base production (outside news and current affairs) in Sydney and Melbourne. TV’s aim is to work with the independent sector on programming that better reflects local diversity. To demonstrate accountability, the ABC will deliver detailed annual reports on its local production, including dollars invested and programs made. Rationalise our television outside broadcast vans and scale back our sports involvement. The ABC is the only broadcaster maintaining its own outside broadcast fleet. With the ABC facing declining audience interest in local sport competitions and some codes chasing commercial opportunities, ABC Television is revising its sports strategy to ensure the most cost-efficient use of resources and optimal audience impact. ABC Television will be providing more detail on its revised sports strategy; Shut five of our very small regional radio posts in Wagin, Morwell, Gladstone, Port Augusta and Nowra. These sites need continual maintenance, the number of staff impacted is minimal and there are no content implications. The ABC will always have and need a strong regional footprint. But we need to be responsible in how we allocate resources and maintaining these sites is not best practice. Today, we are proposing a range of efficiency measures that will transform the operational base of the ABC and provide the bulk of the savings that the Federal Government has imposed. There are more than 40 proposals that go to our processes and systems, our contracts with key suppliers and our infrastructure. They are designed to deliver savings with minimal adverse cost impact – scooping up the benefits of collaboration, harnessing technology, modernising the business and better resource allocation. The proposals address: Our procurement. We will systematically review key contracts to extract efficiencies and explore joint purchasing arrangements with our colleagues at SBS. Our property holdings. We are exploring various options to get savings out of our portfolio. As a first step we will plan for the sale of Lanceley Place in Sydney as well as closing five of our smallest regional radio stations that operate as virtual outposts. Our systems and processes. We will streamline and automate our rostering, performance and other HR paper-based systems, easing bureaucratic demands on staff Key tasks like our switchboard and mail rooms. We will centralise the former and reorganise the latter to yield savings; Our audience and marketing strategies. The Audience and Marketing Division, which was centralised in March, will find efficiencies by aligning more closely with priority content and brand initiatives. We also want to strip back our management layers. Management comprises more than 10 per cent of the proposed redundancies. In mid-2015, we propose dismantling the State and Territory Director structure and looking at new ways of handling local administrative and stakeholder responsibilities. Audience at the centre Competition in the media space is intensifying and audiences are asserting their power. The ABC needs to meet the surging audience demand for online and mobile services while, at the same time, securing and strengthening our grip in the traditional content areas. We must be the home of Australian stories and conversations across all platforms. Structural change can help us in this regard, ensuring we better harness our skills, people and strategies for the benefit of current and future audiences. We propose replacing ABC Innovation with a new digital division, ABC Digital Network, with the aim of prioritising our online and mobile expenditure. The new division would bring our digital designers, user experience specialists, digital project managers and developers together to maximise our investment in this competitive audience space. It would ensure we are better placed to identify audience trends and respond to them with new and enhanced products and services, developed with a whole-of-ABC mindset and discipline. ABC Digital Network is the key to improving the skills of our digital specialists and unlocking a better audience experience: it means better search, single sign-on, better recommendations, localisation, segmentation, profiling and navigation. These areas are vital to keeping our audiences connected and our services relevant. We are also planning a new Regional Division, recognising that, with new digital technologies and better organisation, we can be smarter and more focused in our approach to rural and regional audiences. The new division would bring together regional radio and news staff and look afresh at how we best deploy our knowledge, skills and technology. We will advertise internally for a new director and the position will be located outside Sydney and Melbourne. We have committed to a period of consultation with staff and to engagement with regional communities in crafting the new division. We will maintain our level of content investment while acknowledging that in this new environment, not everything should or will remain as it has been. As part of our structural change, we propose transferring responsibility for News Radio from ABC Radio to ABC News. A reshaped Radio Division would then consist of the local radio stations in the capital cities, Radio National, Classic FM and triple j, offering strong audience focus through both national and localised programming. Michael Mason, who has been acting head of Radio for some months, will be the new Director of Radio. His long leadership experience across many of the Radio networks makes him perfectly qualified for the job. Content reinvestment The budget cuts represent a real opportunity cost for the ABC. The efficiency savings we normally used to finance our digital reinvestment are now being returned to the Government’s general revenue. The reinvestment task cannot simply stop to meet federal budgetary demands. With competition intensifying and audiences growing more demanding and fickle, we cannot afford to abandon our efforts to invest in the content and services our listeners, viewers and readers want. We lag behind other media in terms of our digital reach and penetration. We need to make up ground quickly in terms of the money we devote to reinvestment. Broadcasting is not and never has been a static industry. Each year, our content divisions sit down to map out their plans, taking into account audience trends, technological developments, budgets, and the tactics of others in their respective markets. Programs are changed, cancelled and replaced. Staff are reassigned, resources re-allocated. This is part of the normal cycle of business. Recently, ABC TV announced a raft of exciting new projects for 2015, building on their quality output across three channels. Radio are about to finalise their schedules for next year and will maintain their depth and range of content to loyal audiences across national networks and local radio. ABC News will continue to display cross-platform leadership in news and current affairs. ABC International is delivering for its audiences in the Pacific and Asia. Online, the ABC will continue to show flair, creativity and innovation. But, in responding to the audience challenge, the divisions have identified programming savings that they can reinvest in new content priorities. We have set up an investment fund that will progressively ramp up to $20 million over the next few years. I need to stress this: there will be programming changes, but money saved will be reinvested back into programming. Programming savings In ABC TV, as I flagged earlier, we propose ceasing television production in the smaller states and winding back our TV sport production. ABC News has proposed launching a new, national end-of-week edition of 7.30, replacing the state editions, and delivering more state coverage throughout the week across all platforms. I acknowledge there is a level of debate around this proposal, but we want to focus on delivering more local news and analysis whenever it happens during the day, rather than confining it to Friday nights. Lateline will shift to a new more time-friendly fixed slot on ABC News24 (while also airing on ABC TV in 2015) where it can build the audience it deserves. We propose readjusting the shape of our foreign bureaux but will continue to recognise the importance of our investment in foreign coverage at time of 24/7 news demand and the challenges posed by convergence. As part of this, we will open a new post in Beirut to extend our coverage of the Middle East. Other measures include creating a new National Business Team to boost business and finance coverage across all platforms and better tailoring radio news output to match audience needs. ABC News will outline the more specific proposed changes. ABC Radio plans to cut back on the number of concerts recorded on Classic FM. This is a prudent efficiency measure that still ensures a quality service for the Classic audience. There would be programming changes and staff cuts in Radio National and Local Radio. The changes to Radio National aim to reshape the structure and flow of programming across the middle of the day and to rethink our delivery of documentary content. However, the majority of proposed radio savings are in the administration and management areas. The creation of a Regional Division will impact on work flows for Local Radio and the delivery of digital services across Australia. ABC Radio will provide a more detailed briefing to staff on these and other proposed changes. The need for digital reinvestment does not preclude the search for audience or workplace efficiencies in that area. We are rationalising our websites, with the goal of closing down more than 100 and consolidating content into websites that generate the most traffic, like ABC News, to present our stories to wider audiences. The reinvestment fund priorities The creation of ABC Digital Network will ensure we mobilise our resources to deliver a better audience experience in online and mobile – factors that are vital to success in this competitive market. That is the first of our reinvestment priorities with other initiatives to be rolled out as savings become available. Our focus will be on priority areas of News, children’s, triple j and iview and will include: The upgrading of our innovative catch-up TV service. iview has become an important platform for viewers of every age. We will enrich the audience experience with fast-feature development, improved personalisation, 24-hour support, capacity for audience recommendations and the development of stand-alone content. Exploring the potential for new video streaming and transaction-based services New investment in News Digital, including extending our capacity for breaking and rolling news coverage to online and mobile audiences and building digital newsgathering skills within our metropolitan newsrooms and our current affairs and international teams The extension of radio streaming to regional areas and the development of the personalised radio player that enables listeners to draw in content from across the ABC’s array of services and to access it in one location. The ABC expects that new specialist jobs, funded by our programming changes, will be created across the ABC as we roll out these new digital initiatives. Next stage The ABC has endeavoured to speak to every member of staff directly affected by these proposals and we will embark on a process of consultation with staff and unions about the proposed changes. Some initiatives are still in the planning stage – they will be rolled out as we develop a full understanding of the savings potential and risks. This means it is difficult, at this stage, to provide absolute precision on the size and impact of cuts. Nor can we provide a definite number on redundancies. With more than 40 separate proposals to cut overheads and backroom costs, we need time to work through the processes. However, we expect the staff cuts will be significant. They are likely to exceed 400 over the next few years – close to 10 per cent of our ongoing staff numbers as we consult, bed down the initiatives and seek to realise the savings. These are challenging times, but our responsibility is to recognise the internal and external realities and confront them. We need to manage our budget cuts in a way that best protects audiences. But we also need to realise there is an opportunity cost of the Government taking back the money that we normally use to meet our reinvestment priorities. Our efficiency drive requires the co-operation, involvement and sacrifice of every division. I will visit state and territory branches over the next two weeks to talk personally to workers there. The message I will convey, both internally and externally, over the next few weeks is that the ABC cannot stand still and run the risk of becoming less relevant and compelling to this and future generations. What we’ve proposed today is in the best interests of the ABC and its many stakeholders. It is designed to position the organisation for the future; to ensure its pivotal place as the home of Australian stories and conversations. Working together, we can be confident in our ability to see through these changes and to build a stronger ABC. Mark Scott
- With the media and advertising landscape fragmented Simone Bartley argues the traditional agency model is no longer fit for purpose. CMO’s have never struggled more with bigger challenges than they are today. New technology and new audience behaviour is one thing; future business strategies and innovation to stay relevant are another. Meanwhile in ad land there has been an array of new acquisitions and agency models but what has really changed? The majority of media and creative agencies still sell and generate space and ideas for ad formats; TV, print, digital or otherwise. The fact is advertising is no longer about ads. Advertising is now about content, participation, conversation, experiences and utility. Based on that agencies need to continue to evolve to deliver to this new definition. Easier said than done, particularly for agencies that suffer issues of legacy systems and in fact any agency that does not have enough digital pacesetting clients in the mix. So what should the modern agency look like? The best place to start is by understanding the challenges of marketers today and into the future. According to Philip Kotler at the recent World Marketing and Sales Forum in Melbourne, CMOs should be responsible for the following six tasks: 1. Represent the voice of the customer, 2. Monitor changes in the environment, 3. Act as a steward of the brand, 4. Oversee upgrades to technology, 5. Offer an insight into the portfolio, and 6. Measure and account for financial performance. Kotler also thinks companies have two parts to their marketing departments: one “helping the salesmen sell” dealing with current business, and the other, separately working on strategy to build a future for the company. That means agencies serious about creating deep partnership with marketer’s today need to rise above the world of communication tactics and think more about what brands and technology mean for business and marketing overall. To do so requires a level of business and brand acumen as well as integrated teams with creative, media and technology skills working together. One of the key issues for marketers is that agencies do not have a good history of collaboration or sharing ideas. Competing P&L’s only add to the issue. The biggest step though may be the need to unlearn the labelling of the past; print, TV, digital and mobile. These labels were originally created to help identify and understand the ‘new’ channels – Social, mobile etc. But as more channels open will this labelling help or hinder? At the end of the day marketers need creative, media and technology teams to work together. Whether that is through one or more agencies. So what are some of the key ingredients for the modern agency? Everyone is strategic and creative. Digital skills permeate the team. The agency operates teams not departments. The definition of the ‘creative team’ is challenged as teams are customised to the project. Leadership and structure is allowed to happen more organically. There is a culture where ideas can flourish. An excellent example of this is Valve. Valve is a Gaming Company that has been voted one of the most desirable places to work. Their Handbook cover reads: ‘A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one they’re telling you what to do.’ The hierarchy is referred to as Flatland. For me the modern agency is smaller, with more generalists than specialists that don't hide behind jargon. There is a bundled offer of creative, media and technology where media and technology people aspire to creative ideals and creative people care equally about the marketer’s business objectives. Simone Bartley is CEO of agency TogetherCo Bartley is speaking on a Q&A panel at tomorrow's SAGE event in Sydney alongside Ikon Communications CEO James Greet, Ogilvy Australia Group CEO David Fox and Edelman CEO Tim Riches on the topic of what does a successful modern agency business look like?
- In this guest post ZenithOptimedia boss Ian Perrin argues Foxtel's recent move to halve its basic package prices is not just to defend it from the threat of new streaming services. There has been much made of the substantial reductions in Foxtel pricing announced recently. It appears that most of the sentiment suggests that this is a defensive move, designed to take on the multiple streaming services ready to hit our shores. This may well be the case, but my belief is that it's the opposite. It’s actually a bold, offensive play designed to actively target the free-to-air networks. [caption id="attachment_249441" align="alignright" width="234"] Click to enlarge[/caption] Foxtel is smart enough to realise that hiding brilliant content behind paywalls and expecting people to pay exorbitant fees for it these days is suicide. The less accessible their delivery, the more likely consumers are to pirate it. And we all know that Australia has one of the highest rates of illegal downloading in the world, which the NBN will only exaggerate. They are also smart enough to know that the business model of content broadcasting is rapidly changing. What started off as a model designed to deliver mass content that appealed to everyone has moved towards delivering niche content to targetable segments. The next iteration is personalised content in an on-demand fashion. In this addressable world, advertisers are increasingly expecting to not only reach their audiences, but not pay for those who aren't. In fact they will set their own prices, sometimes higher, for the right impression. Trading desks have revolutionised how we think about personalised targeting, and while currently confined to the digital world, TV has to be, and will be next. To do this you need customer data, and right now subscription TV is the only broadcaster who has access to it. Free-to-air networks are hoping the launch of HbbTV will change this, but it's a large expectation. YouTube rightly argues that it already has more data than either party, but until it delivers high-end content to Australian TVs, they won't be able to match Foxtel. Hence why the Foxtel/MCN deal with Quantium is a further step in the right direction. So the space race has certainly begun. Foxtel is in a unique position of strength, but it may not last long. Its first step is a positive one, but it has to move quickly to deliver advertisers more personalised solutions using its data. While they understand this, there is still work to be done on execution. I have been a Foxtel subscriber for 13 years now, and yet I am still served retail banners asking me to sign up. Ironically, this is the sort of wasteful advertising that it is uniquely positioning to eradicate. Ian Perrin is CEO of ZenithOptimedia Disclaimer: ZenithOptimedia held the Foxtel media account until 2012
- Ahead of a session at tomorrow's Publish conference on whether native advertising will be the saviour of publishing Newsmodo founder Rakhal Ebeli sets out where how he sees the relationship between brands and editorial playing out.. There are so many question marks hanging over the future of the industry. Will print be extinct? Will journalists be endangered? Will publishers have evolved into a new, unrecognisable species? Here's how I see it developing. Brands and journalists will be enemies no longer Adaptation is crucial to the survival of a species. If we are to survive in our increasingly hostile environs, characterised by mass staff layoffs, cultural apathy and reduced press freedom, brands and journalists will need to make peace. This is already happening. Newsmodo for one has embraced the change with our global network of journalists delivering high-quality brand journalism for a range of blue-chip clients. But there is room for growth. While we have progressed to a new publishing paradigm, many journalists still have a lingering distaste for branded content. This attitudinal roadblock will be of no use in the future. Brand journalism proves that there are many mutual benefits to working together. As more journalists discard ye olde worldly suspicion of commercial interest, I predict there will be a publishing renaissance. The end of the archaic battle for editorial control will liberate writers, brands and publishers to explore new ways to provide interesting, newsworthy and relevant content for their readers. This could take the form of brand-sponsored documentaries, interactive custom publishing or flexi-collaborative content production. In short, it could be the start of a new neon-bright future for publishing. The fourth wall will dissolve The invisible fourth wall that divides ‘us’ the producer from ‘you’ the consumer will collapse. This will transform how we communicate, pushing the industry to move from a hierarchical to a lateral structure. The effect of this will be profound. It will lead to an even greater rise in user-generated content. This trend has already prompted brands and marketers rush to crafting new strategies that better reach their target market. I expect this will only grow and prompt further interest in tailor-made, targeted content. Since founding Newsmodo in 2013, I have seen a dramatic rise in the demand for personalised content. As we move into the future, and need to speak – quickly, conversationally and directly – with an audience becomes even greater, I forecast that demand for customised content will reach unprecedented levels. This could inspire radically new ways of connecting with audiences. Engaged in dialogue and not in diatribe, brands and marketers will have the opportunity to build real relationships and create more meaningful content experiences. Move to modularity In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler predicted the rise of the modular society. His discussion of a modular family unit and a more general social shift is also applicable to the publishing industry. In the future, publishing is likely to become (more) modular. Outsourcing and specialising will compartmentalise the industry into more efficient, less cumbersome parts. Online will be the new in-house. This will encourage a more global and diverse response to publishing. Audiences will also develop more modular readership habits. Today, apps and online tools like Storify, Medium, Stumble Upon allow readers to manage their news feeds and break down their content into small, compact parcels. As categories, tags, hashtags and filters become part of the new online lexicon, it will be increasingly important to develop content that cuts-through. And what will cut-through? Quality. History has taught me that quality is timeless. Looking forward, I predict that quality content will continue to be the publishing industry’s most valuable commodity. Rakhal Ebeli is the founder of Newsmodo
- With Click Frenzy kicking off tonight and amid warnings over the state of Australian e-commerce Mark Troselj says there are some simple things local businesses can do to beat international pure-plays like Amazon at their own game. Warnings by GroupM’s digital boss last week that Amazon has the potential to crush Australia’s e-commerce market “like an Anaconda” should not be written off as hyperbole. Too many Australian businesses have been slow to grasp the enormity of the wholesale transformation of the global retail sector and have procrastinated at the expense of market share and current and future revenue streams. Alarmingly a recent Frost and Sullivan report ‘Disrupt, Collapse, Transform,’ revealed that although digitalisation, new disruptive competitors and new business models are driving change, only 38 per cent of Australian retailers have the ability to transact online. You read that correctly. In a world where yesterday’s consumers are rapidly being replaced by tech-savvy web and mobile users who now expect to research, price-shop and buy without picking up a phone or going in-store this, 62 per cent of Australian’s are effectively ruling themselves out of the game. With Nielsen recently reporting that six out of ten Australian’s taking a multi-channel pathway to purchase (according to Nielsen’s “Australian Online Landscape Review’) and US retail juggernauts on the way, which seems like retail suicide. But crucially, it is entirely avoidable. Because, whilst Amazon has written and re-written the rules of ecommerce globally since the late 1990s, and will no doubt continue to do so, Australian retailers large and small now have access to resources and technology that can be quickly implemented to get them back in the game. Better yet, that technology is invariably in the cloud which means lower capital expenditures, faster results, real-time data and the ability to instantly scale. Local online retailers have the real opportunity to exploit local brand awareness and leverage their physical stores to reduce shipping costs, improve delivery time and cut inventory carrying costs, with the potential to beat Amazon at its own game. Then they can use their brick-and-mortar stores to create advantages Amazon can't match – particularly pertinent given the rise of the multi-channel path to purchase and as retailers are beginning to experiment with iBeacon technology, not to mention the potential of the next wave of wearable/Internet of Thing devices and applications. How to escape the Anaconda’s grip First and foremost, Australian retailers need to choose the right commerce software platform to drive their ecommerce operations and manage its integration into their bricks and mortar presence if they have one and as well their financials, shipping, order management, inventory, supply chain and warehouse. It needs to have real-time inventory updates, customer self-service, one-click reordering, easy search functionality and the ability to promote products dynamically. This will invariably be found with a cloud-based commerce management solution irrespective of whether it is a small online retailer or large multinational. Superior shipping and fulfilment is also fundamental. Ship to your customers faster and they will be delighted. Ship to them more cheaply and profit will go up. Accomplish both goals by shipping from the location nearest your customer, whether that is a warehouse, distribution centre or brick-and-mortar storefront, and you’ll cross fewer kilometres with each shipment realising both reduced shipping costs and improved delivery times. You can also turn a store into an asset by offering purchase online and pick up in –store, shop to home but exchange in-store. Ever cognisant of the changing e-commerce landscape, Australia Post recently launched its new 24/7 parcel lockers in key urban areas to make the shipping and collection process far more convenient for both retailers and consumers. A new major advertising campaign launched by GPY&R Melbourne is expected to help drive purchasing from busy professionals who don’t have time to collect parcels during office hours (indeed we recently partnered with Australia Post to help our online retail clients transform delivery and collection processes). As customers demand a smooth and personalised journey to purchase, it is imperative to nail marketing insights and strategies. It’s true that Amazon wrote the book on this, but there is no reason that the ‘smaller guys’ can’t do just as well. The tools are out there to enable businesses of any size to precisely identify, segment and target consumers in granular detail, without requiring an army of analysts or a resident actuary genius to decipher. Loyalty programmes, targeted discounts and personalised EDMs are all simply executed at the push of a button. We have seen countless Australian businesses transform their operations, and ultimately their profits, by changing their fundamental business platform and moving away from the disparate business systems of the past. Just as the silos of advertising and marketing are merging into true cross-channel and platform campaigns, so are the business processes that underpin them. Customers increasingly expect a seamless and consistent omnichannel retail shopping experience, regardless of whether they shop in-store, online, or telephone and catalogue across any mobile device. Despite Amazon’s global domination, businesses don’t have time for the luxury of fear – they must begin to transform. The good news is that there are many strategies and solutions that Australian retailers can adopt to remain viable and beat Amazon and other major B2C e-commerce companies at their own game. Mark Troselj is managing director of Asia Pacific and Japan for NetSuite
- Recently undergraduate Jacob Hkeik penned an opinion piece about a lack of awareness of media agency careers amongst students looking for careers. Here Linda Wong from the Media Federation Australia responds. Two weeks ago we read an article by MGrad graduate Jacob Hkeik, saying media offers some of the most interesting career opportunities to graduates, but most of them don’t know media agencies exist. The fact is, the MFA and our members put a lot of work in to educating lecturers and students about the opportunities in our industry and our most recent survey shows that in actual fact, more than 60 per cent of new recruits to the industry came from MFA-accredited universities. Sure, this new talent may have predominantly come from communications faculties, but the fact is, these are the lecturers and students that are most engaged by the opportunities media has to offer. As the data and programmatic trading space continues to build, it’s important to get a foot in the door in the Finance, Pure Mathematics and Business faculties, but much like this is an education process for our industry, on the changing nature of roles and opportunities that exist – so too is our challenge at the university level. While the Advertising Media Agency Industry feels huge in size and scope when you are working in the heart of it, in actual fact it’s fairly small. According to the MFA’s Annual Census Survey, we’re talking approximately 3,000 people. There are 813,689 domestic students attending universities in Australia, and we only have openings in our industry for 245 graduates each year. With that in mind, over the last five years our strategy has been to get ‘on the ground’ involvement with the Communications and Marketing faculties and making sure their courses are relevant and cover what we do in the industry. We also engage them through our annual “Lecture the Lecturer” sessions, where course leaders at all the key unis are updated by industry leaders on trends, changes, grad programs and new opportunities. Plus we have over 200 students visit us annually for student visits, and we do at least 2-3 Guest Lectures at each of the universities. 60 Experts from our industry have contributed to creating awareness of our industry with the universities this year alone. Over the past four years our MFA intern program has placed 140 interns with member agencies, resulting in 90-95 per cent of interns being offered full time employment at the end of their placement. Plus, our member agencies run their own scholarship programs with students, such as MGrad with Group M, TMS, OMD, PHD and UM. Is there more to be done to educate students about what we do, and the many benefits of joining our industry? Without a doubt. We would love to connect with the other 800,000 students, particularly those with data, business, finance, psychology and education backgrounds. As they are difficult to reach en-masse, we are working towards more targeted programs. For now, we’re pleased with the progress we are making. Linda Wong is MFA director, people
- During the Hector Crawford Memorial Lecture at the Screen Forever conference, writer, broadcaster and film maker Phillip Adams called for a repeat of the Government largesse of the 1970s and for the "cultural and political idealism" of the Whitlam administration to save Australia's film industry. Read his full address here. Hector Crawford. Named for the Trojan prince. Presumably his parents also considered other classical heroes – Rome’s Horatio, the Carthaginian Hannibal or Hercules, son of Zeus. On balance I think Hercules might have been a better fit given Hector’s herculean efforts to get local drama onto Australian television. I first met Hector in the mid-fifties, hours before television was introduced to this country and years after the Americans and British had managed to crush what was left of an Australian film industry through their ownership of Hoyts and Greater Union. My focus would be on film – not on a film industry as such – but on the feature film as a focus for national aspirations. Working with my partner in cultural crime Barry Jones, our inspiration was more the films of Sweden and the courage of filmmakers in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. And the arguments we would put to John Gorton were unashamedly patriotic, nationalistic and, let it be said, anti-American. Around a hundred and fifty million people died in wars and genocides in the 20 century. Had the Third World War not been narrowly avoided that figure might have increased tenfold. Nationalism and patriotism, exacerbated by newly minted ideologies, racism and old religions, created the greatest charnel house in history. Statisticians will tell you, despite what seems to be evidence to the contrary, that these early stages of the 21 century are a period of comparative calm. At least according to the body count. But as we stumble and fumble about in its early stages notions of nationalism and patriotism still represent a far greater danger to human sanity and survival than the current pandemics of HIV and Ebola. Yet, today, I am going to urge you to be patriots and nationalists. Because despite the blurring of borders created by corporate globalization and recent technological wizardries, it is only old-fashioned nationalism that can inculcate public and political support for an Australian film industry. I will suggest to you that your future survival must be predicated on the appeals that Barry and I used inthe past. The secret for the survival of an Australian industry begins and ends with that all-powerful word. Australia. Despite my ambivalence about patriotism I’ve been in the tub-thumping business for 60 of my 75 years. I’m now the oldest pundit in the employ of The Australian newspaper. One of the oldest broadcasters at the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I’ve headed the National Australia Day Council, chosen Australians of the Year, persuaded Qantas to write The Spirit of Australia on their umpteen aircraft. I set up Advance Australia, an outfit to cajole Australians into buying Australian. Yet in the same breath, when I hear Abbott talk Team Australia I feel like joining Barry McKenzie in projectile vomiting. Because you’d need a tin ear not to recognise that Team Australia is code for a Whiter Australia, a more Christian Australia. The film industry exists because government called it into being, persuaded by patriotic arguments. Lose the support of the Australian government and this whole enterprise vanishes, like picnickers at Hanging Rock, and we revert to the cinematic terra nullius of the 1950s and 60s. Film, for most of its 100-year history, has been the most political form of expression. When Barry and I arrived in Moscow, whilst circumnavigating the planet on a mission from Gorton, we learnt that Lenin, having recognised the potential of the medium, had within minutes of the Bolshevik revolution created the VGIK, the film school in Moscow. Hitler? The triumph of his will required the films of Leni Riefenstahl. And as I used to write in the 60s MGM was every bit as important to the USA as the CIA – the ‘dream factory’ of Hollywood producing the ‘soft power’ that would mould the imaginations of pretty much the entire human population. Around the world people would drag the Trojan Horse of American films into their cinemas – and with the arrival of television, into their homes. More than any other pop cultural factor, it was cinema that persuaded us to mimic America in everything from food to fashion to foreign policy. American soft power, overwhelmingly spearheaded by movies, would aid and abet the American program leading to political, financial and even military dominance. And while Stalin was controlling and censoring Soviet cinema Washington was doing pretty much the same in Hollywood through the Hayes office and later the efforts of HUAC and McCarthy. To make sure that US films served the political purposes of Team America. Authoritarian governments and their democratic counterparts always knew that film was a two-edged sword. Hence the mayhem of the McCarthy years, hence the decision of South Africa’s apartheid government to delay the introduction of television for decades. God forbid that black Africa should see western television when every other program provided evidence of comparatively successful integration of white and black. Even in amiable England film was employed as the most powerful propaganda tool – keeping up the British pecker during the Blitz. Within moments of his abdication the Duke of Windsor was cutting secret deals with Hitler to be plonked back on the throne following a Nazi takeover. And a great many of the most influential member of the British aristocracy were similarly inclined. Yet the British working class felt very differently – and one of the reasons they gave wholehearted support to a beleaguered Winston Churchill was, yes, patriotic films by the likes of Noel Coward. Meanwhile, here, we’d allowed the British and the Americans to crush our own industry. When it came to cinema – and this situation would extend well into the first decades of television – we were effectively censored. We gave new meaning to the term silent film because we had no film. And you can’t be more silent than that. It has long amused and frustrated me that we focus our energies and identities on anachronistic associations with Britain – a Britain reduced from imperial magnificence to an enfeebled Commonwealth with a monarchy little more than a theme park of increasingly creaky and rheumatic rides. The real issue is not with a redundant monarchy but with a powerful republic. And I’m one republican who wants to see our humiliating and groveling relationship with the United States our focus. Forget the Windsors. Worry about Washington. Film projectors project so much more than film. They project ideas and ultimately belief systems. Ours is a country with comparatively sane gun laws. We do not drown in mass-marketed religiosity. Nor do we see the theory of evolution as blasphemy. Women here have the right to choose. Thanks to a campaign energized by Barry Jones we have long since abandoned the death penalty – whilst the US – most notably Texas – maintains an assembly line to deliver victims of a racist legal system to the execution chamber. In so many ways Australia wasand remains light years ahead of the US in its social attitudes. Yet we allow ourselves to acquiesce to insane American laws regarding drugs and we have increasingly echoed their law and order rhetoric and legislation. Anybody who doubts for a moment that US film and television hasn’t placed a crucial role in this dangerous osmosis simply hasn’t been paying attention. We’ve increasingly embraced the US political system, turning our federal elections into de facto presidential elections – a process that I was writing about in the age of Robert Gordon Menzies. And we’ve increasingly allowed our elections to become auctions – competitions between advertising agencies as much as betwixt candidates and policy. I met with Joan Ganz Cooney when she was launching Sesame Street in New York and remember her compelling observation that Australians absorb American popular culture as if we were made of blotting paper. And that ends up with us joining the US in its inane, insane and often entirely counter-productive wars. The war in Vietnam, the war in Afghanistan, the wars in Iraq, the wars on drugs and the war on terror. Farces, fiascos and frauds. Let the record show that my life, like yours, has been measured to a large extent with magnificent American films and plays and novels. I believe that the United States sets the highest standards in almost every example of human activity – and the most awful examples. But Hector Crawford and I (and Barry) were united in our belief that we needed a buffer zone to allow Australian ideas and ideals to breathe. Through the 60s there was no support for an Australian film industry. Indeed, it would be actively opposed by such early license holders as Sir Frank Packer – and just as tenaciously and more surprisingly by the ABC which did everything ‘in house’. Outsiders need not apply. As I’d complain at the National Press Club that was tantamount to the National Gallery of Australia hanging only portraits and landscapes by staff painters, artists who work 9 to 5 with holiday pay and superannuation. Imagine the outcry at such a proposition. Yet it suited the ABC just fine. So they were, in an unholy alliance with Packer, doing everything they could to discourage government support. Nor was there any audience support. How could there be? Since the 1930s there’d been a handful of Australian films and virtually nobody had seen them. Throughout the 60s and the early 70s the Americans dominated TV scheduling and took home 96% of the Australian box office. Leaving 4% for the rest of the world. For the filmmakers, for the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Eastern Europe – and Australia. It wasn’t just the Australian film and television industry that was in the doldrums. In the 60s only 4 Australian plays were professionally produced, 4 in a decade. Generations of Australian actors had lived and died without ever playing an Australian unless you managed to get into the cast of Blue Hill or one of Hector’s pioneering radio serials. Our actors were vocal chameleons who could do Noel Coward, Shakespeare or the toffee voices required for the English drawing room comedies imported by J C Williamson. They could make a fist of Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams. But the first thing an Australian actor learnt to do was to get rid of his or her embarrassing Australian accent. There’d been continuous agitation through the 60s for governments to do something, anything, to encourage local film and program makers. But nothing happened, except for one odd law that was passed under mysterious circumstances. It was against the law to run a foreignmade television commercial here. Thus the great global brands like Coco Cola and Marlborough had to make commercials locally. They were often frame for frame copies of US originals. And there was the phenomenon of so-called ‘ghost crews’ – where Australians would go to Los Angeles and pretend to have shot a Coca Cola or Marlborough ad. They’d luxuriate in a hotel for a few days, sign a few forms and fly home – with 100% American ads in their luggage. Nonetheless this law built up a skill base, particularly with our technicians – the cinematographers who’d later queue up to collect their Oscars – and with would-be feature directors like Ray Lawrence and Fred Schepisi. Many of the most significant names in our film industry learnt the tricks of the trade making ads – and it was much the same in the UK where David Puttnam and friends like Ridley Scott would make the move from TV commercials to fully-fledged features. But the big breakthrough came when Barry and I returned from our circumnavigation of the planet and I wrote the most influential page of prose of my life. And I want to remind you about it – because it is my belief that the only way forward for our troubled industry is to retrace those steps and make the same arguments loud and clear My page began with a piece of nudge nudge wink wink plagiarism – the opening statement of America’s Declaration of Independence. ‘We hold these truths to be self evident.’ Yes, it was a joke. But my page was also a declaration of independence. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident. It is time to see our own landscapes, hear our own voices and dream our own dreams.’ Australian filmgoers had rarely seen their own landscapes on a Hoyts or Greater Union screen. They were much more familiar with the American accents than their own. And when it came to dreams? We knew next to nothing of our own history. Our ignorance of Aboriginal Australia was utter – whereas we knew a great deal about the so-called Red Indians. And when it came to dreaming dreams? Even our heroes were fully imported from the US. Australian fathers were effectively emasculated in the eyes of their kids because they were not Americans. Hence Barry and I made three recommendations. First, the so-called Experimental Film Fund. The idea was to give money away, in tiny amounts, to anyone who wanted to have a crack at making a short film. I had recently made my first feature on a clockwork 16mm Bolex, for just $6,000. Called Jack and Jill A Postscript it went on to be the first Australian feature to win the AFI awards and the first Australian feature to win the Grand Prix at an international festival. (Yes, a very small international festival – Adelaide-Auckland.) But if I could make a feature for $6,000 then for $600 you could at least demonstrate potential talent. The experimental film fund. Its greatest significance was that it was the first commitment of federal funds into the film industry in living memory. Gorton approved it without even discussing it in Cabinet. Its purpose was to scatter bread upon the water. The best and brightest would emerge and – here’s the second recommendation – we’d send them to a shiny bright new film school. I wanted to base the school on Swinburne’s pioneering effort in Melbourne – but this was the one recommendation that Gorton would dismiss. John wanted it in Sydney – imagining a mega- campus which might accommodate all cultural institutions with ‘Australian’ in their title. The Australian Ballet, the Australian Opera, the National Institute of Dramatic Art. That certainly wasn’t Barry’s view or mine. We’d noticed that the best film schools were often shambolic little outfits often located in the grottiest part of a city, amidst the rough and tumble of street life. Film schools were, at the time, immensely popular. The film school movement in the US was about to produce the likes of Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. All the filmmakers of the Soviet and Eastern Europe were film school graduates. And in the UK plans for film schools were afoot. But wherever the film school would be built would lead to our third recommendations. The graduates from our film school, who would form themselves into teams, would then be funded – fully funded if necessary – by a Film Bank. The Australian Film Development Commission. Soon thereafter John lost office, with only the experimental fund in place. It would take 2 more prime ministers before the second and third steps were implemented. Billy McMahon was a waste of space but Whitlam pushed ahead. In the 60s we learnt quite a bit about how to handle governments from, of all people, André Malraux – a very famous French novelist who was Charles de Gaulle’s Minister for the Arts. When Malraux wanted to influence de Gaulle on film policy he’d round up the good and the great of French cinema – the living national treasures like Jacques Tati and Bresson – and the great actors. Because he knew something that all of us know about Australian politicians. Or American presidents. They love being seen in the company of the acknowledged national treasures. But he also said this. Make sure that the President is the Minister for Film. Don’t have junior ministers, if you have a junior minister you won’t get the money out of Treasury and the idiots will interfere. We took that advice very seriously and always battled to keep film in the Prime Minister’s department or the Premier’s department. And as long as that lasted with Gorton, with Whitlam, with Dunstan, with Wran, things went pretty well. But as soon as you were downgraded, Malraux’s warnings came true. We started to lose our momentum when junior ministers, particularly political nonentities, were given responsibility for film. That three-step program worked like a charm. The pent-up creative energy in this country boiled over and within minutes we were a significant filmmaking nation. We famously became flavoor of the month, of the year,of the decade as we started winning prizes at major international film festivals, not simply Adelaide Auckland. At about the same time Don Dunstan called me. As a shiny bright new Premier he’d feltthe pulse quickening and wanted to be a part of the Australian film renaissance. So I devised the South Australian Film Corporation which was immediately followed by similar organisations in Victoria, QLD, NSW and even Tasmania. With the passing of the years a few of them failed. But from having been the hardest country on earth in which to make a feature film Australia became the easiest. But the Americans were not happy. Again and again they set out to destroy us. And it is important that you know how bitter these fights were. The TV channels were forming themselves into networks and telling Hector Crawford and the Government that they couldn’t afford Australian drama. And that was almost true. Why? Because they were spending far, far too much on American programming – paying the highest price in the world for US shows. Not simply in per capita terms. Every year the buyers for the networks would go to the US and bid up the prices. Whitlam agreed to an enquiry into film and television – conducted by Richard Boyer. I kept my evidence for the last day proposing that Australia should have a buying agency – send one person, just one, to the US with a shopping list provided by the networks. He would refuse to pay the inflated prices and, yes, the studio super profits would be eroded. But they’d have to cop it. Then, back in Australia, we’d hold that auction. The networks would bid on the programs they wanted – and the difference between the price we’d paid in the US and the price the networks paid here would be used to fund Australian television drama. With all due modesty the Adams plan was simple and elegant. It was, however, leaked to Hollywood by a recalcitrant member of the Whitlam government – a Minister who enjoyed overly warm relations with the US studios. And Jack Valenti, the head of the all-powerful MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America – a lobby group which I compare to the National Rifle Association in its ability to influence Washington) immediately hopped on a plane. Not to Australia. To Honolulu. Valenti had been the bag man for Lyndon Johnson and front man for Hubert Humphrey. He was Democrat Party aristocracy – and had been given the MPAA job as a sinecure. And he was bloody good at it. Honolulu? Gough was on his way back from a victory lap as prime minister. And Valenti who was 5ft tall baled him up in the VIP lounge and said, ‘If the Adams plan is implemented you will never again see an American film or television show. We will slap a total embargo on you.’ His threat was ludicrous. Not even Valenti could have brought it off. Or maintained it. We’re talking the Easy Rider era when independent production was exploding and the studios were beginning to retreat. But Gough was understandably alarmed and when he returned to Australia told me of the threat. I said, ‘But that would be terrific, it would make Australians angry about the Americans and give us what we’ve always lacked – support of Australian public opinion to back local films.’ But for once in his life, Gough chickened out. There was a quick Cabinet meeting and they waved the white flag.I tell this story to show how brutal things can get. In the years ahead I’d often negotiate with Valenti on Australia’s behalf. There was no more talk of total embargoes but from time to time Jack would murmur that other Australian exports such as lamb might be rejected. This would happen incidentally when the New Zealanders dared to refuse entry to US nuclear ships into their harbours. Whether it was the soft power of thatTrojan horse of film and television or the hard power of war ships, the US protects its interests. Of course, Australians were more than welcome to become a part of the American film industry. They were perfectly happy for us to be a backlot for their films provided we greased the palms of their producers with tax breaks and bribes. Nor do they mind if an Australian director make a hybrid film like Gatsby. What they can’t destroy with a big stick they try with the carrot. Once the Trojan Horse of American film was inside our cinemas, once its foal was dragged into our homes via television, the Americans were able to use their cultural clout to tell us what to eat, what to wear and what to think – even changing our vernacular. Our best and brightest joined their industry at the cost of the cultural impoverishment of ours. The reason Australians won support in the late 60s and early 70s was because we argued the Australian case. To see our own landscapes, hear our own voices, tell our own history, celebrate our own heroes. That and that alone gave us political leverage. It was never an argument about employment levels. It was never an argument about an industry as such – and support for industries, these days, don’t go down too well. Ask far more significant operations like the auto industry. If Canberra will cop the political pain and close them down they’re hardly likely to lose much sleep over the complaints of local film producers. If you are to win ongoing support from government – and it matters little what brand of government you’re dealing with these days – the only weapon you have has Australia written on the blade. It is still the most powerful word, whether used as noun or adjective. It’s what saves the Australian Broadcasting Commission from the constant assaults of the Australian newspaper. It is what draws attention and funding to Australian Opera, Australian Ballet and pretty much anything else with Australia in its name. It is time to wheel out the big guns in Australian culture – not only from the first rank of Australian filmmakers and actors but also from Australian literature. We are still reeling in delight from the fact that another Australian has won the Man Booker prize – my friend Richard Flanagan now joins the ranks of Carey and Keneally. Activate them. All three have passionate commitments to Australian film. Alert the Australian painters as well. In fact, we’ve got much to learn from the painters and the writers who’ve been more successful than the filmmakers in achieving local market share. Whilst 95% of the box office still goes to American films Australians overwhelmingly prefer to buy Australian paintings – and the list of bestselling books in this country invariably have a few Australian novels on them. I walked away from any involvement in film 10 or 15 years ago. I closed down my production houses, resigned from my committees and have avoided commenting on film politics since then. I was dragged reluctantly to this lectern. But in my heyday I was remarkably successful in getting money out of state and federal governments. And the techniques that Barry and I employed then have urgent relevance now. I used to joke that Australia only rhymed with failure – which isn’t much help if you’re trying to write a national anthem to compare with ‘the Marseillaise’. Even our unofficial anthem, ‘Waltzing Mathilda’, is a woeful ditty. Though it claims to tell the story of a jolly swagman it ends with the poor bloke drowning himself in a billabong over, of all things, a sheep. And failure resonates in so many of our early films. In Peterson Jack Thompson wants to succeed at university but finishes up repairing TV sets. In Sunday Too Far Away, Jack fails in his ambition to be gun shearer. In Gallipoli we finish up losing the war. Phar Lap dies, probably murdered. In Peter Weir’s early feature The Cars That Ate Paris there’s a dying cadence and in Picnic At Hanging Rock, which Barry Humphries once called The Cars That Ate Children, Miranda and her mates are never found again. Whilst Alvin Purple runs in the opposite direction from sexual encounters, Barry Humphries runs towards them but remains a virgin. The Getting of Wisdom’s title was ironic. In Don’s Party we lose the election. I remember a French audience at Cannes, who’d spent the first hour thoroughly enjoying Burke and Wills, flouncing out enraged when they realised the explorers are going to die in the desert. Let us hope the Australian film industry does not end, once more, in failure. But if it is to have a happy ending its advocates musn’t be fooled into collaborating with the bureaucracies by arguing in their terms. It is time to form another Team Australia. Based not on dog whistle calls to bigotry but on expressing the sort of cultural and political idealism that was so exhilarating in the glory days of Whitlam. It is time to call upon the pantheon of Australia’s creative producers, filmmakers, writers, painters, pundits, public intellectuals and sympathetic pollies – anyone and everyone who can be recruited to the cause. I hold this truth to be self-evident. Our film industry was created with government largesse in the early 1970s. And I’m sure that Hector Crawford would agree with me when I state the bleeding obvious and say it cannot live without it.
- Network Ten's director of corporate and public communications Neil Shoebridge has penned a letter to the editor in response to an opinion piece by Alex Hayes on Friday on Ten's upfront presentation the previous evening.
The column you posted on November 14 described Network Ten’s 2015 programming slate as “frugal”, “lean” and “minimalist”. That description is inaccurate, misleading and puzzling.
At our Upfronts 2015 presentation on November 3, we laid out a full 12-month schedule, including eight new local productions:
- I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
- Shark Tank
- The Bachelorette Australia
- Mary: The Making Of A Princess
- The Peter Brock Story
- The First ANZACs
- Baby Circle
Phone: 61 2 9467 3231
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