2013 – A year to forget for

1. Dick smith Dick_smith

First there was the issue of ‘that’ Australia Day. Featuring shipwrecked refugees and people proclaiming “I love Dick”, created by comedian Dan Ilic, the ad was ‘banned’ by every TV network, and eventually the Ad Standards Board, although many called it out as a deliberate scam.

Smith then took to social media with the hilarious early April Fool’s Day joke, claiming Vegemite would be renamed “Yankymite” because owners Kraft are a US firm. Hilarious. Later in the year Smith put out a desperate plea to find a creative agency to save his ailing business and threatened to “move to Monaco” if he couldn’t source the “next John Singleton”. The private jet is waiting Dick…

2. Aussiemiteaussiemite

The owners of Aussiemite wanted a viral ad, and got it. Unfortunately, the virus spread in ways they had not anticipated forcing them into a series of apologies after a massive backlash for using Catholic communion wafers to eat the Vegemite-like spread. They then fired agency Grown Ups, but agency boss Grant Brooker hit back saying there was no ongoing relationship, and they had fulfilled the brief to create a viral hit for the brand.

3. Tom Waterhouse

At the start of the year you couldn’t switch on a sports match or even a news broadcast without seeing Tom Waterhouse’s gurning mug beaming back at you, spouting off about odds on every sport from League, to AFL to tiddlywinks. Is there nothing the man doesn’t know about?

Unfortunately for Tom this ubiquity proved to be his undoing, as he became the poster-boy for the anti-live odds brigade, who wanted their children to be able to enjoy their dose of ultra-violent sport without the corruption of wagering. The government, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and Free TV all stepped in and introduced codes of conduct to stop the practice. At the same time Tom wrote an open letter to The Telegraph apologising, and promising to cut back on his advertising forthwith. Weeks later he sold the business for a cut-price $30m to British bookmaker William Hill. This notoriety earned him high billings on Encore’s list of most disliked personalities for the year.

4. TenTen

It’s going to get better. That was the mantra coming from the Pyrmont offices of Network Ten at the end of 2012, after revealing a glut of new shows it said would turn the ailing network around. Unfortunately, they didn’t. A cursory glance at this year’s list of TV flop bares this out. Shows like Wonderland, MasterChef: The Professionals and The Bachelor failed to spark with the public, and even breakout US hit Homeland slumped in its third season. Reef Doctors scored just 357,000 viewers – one of the worst debuts for an Australian drama – and was dumped after it’s second show. February saw the axing of CEO James Warburton, followed by a raft of other staff, and the introduction of no-nonsense boss Hamish McLennan, who shifted the broadcaster’s aim to an older demographic.

The network’s vaunted morning show lineup started low in November as well, with Wake Up rating 52,000 metro viewers on its first day, while at some points, Studio 10 dipped to less than 1,000 viewers in Melbourne and Perth. Less than three weeks in and presenter Natasha Exelby was dropped from the morning line up. On top of this, the all too public chase for top sports rights failed to come off, save for cricket’s Big Bash league, and landing the Winter Olympics no-one else wanted.

5. WPP

After years of being the biggest, and most talked-about holding group in the world, 2013 will go down as the year Sir Martin Sorrell’s behemoth lost its crown. First, an embarrassing David versus Goliath battle with sacked Campaign Palace ECD Paul Fishlock dragged the names of some of its top execs past and present through the mud, ending with Fishlock landing $400,000 in compensation. The lengthy, and unpopular, wranglings over legal costs are still ongoing.

Then news arch-rivals Publicis and Omnicom had agreed to merge, and form the biggest holding group in the world, emerged. Sorrell wasted no time or opportunity to sledge the proposed arrangement, but if the regulators are happy, Publicis Omnicom’s media agencies in Australia will control almost 50 per cent more spend than WPP’s GroupM offering.

KimWilliams6. Kim Williams

One minute you’re at the top chasing the digital dream, the next you’re out in the cold watching all your changes being unwound by a rival most thought had been put out to pasture long ago.

Unfortunately for Kim Williams his tenure as head of News Ltd, then News Corp, will mostly be associated with the term “grin-fucking”, newsroom rebellions and ultimately editors going over his head to boss Rupert Murdoch, who finally handed him his cards in August, replacing him with old stager and trusted lieutenant Julian Clarke. The writing was on the wall, or tweet, for Williams. In June Rupey tweeted two words, Kim Williams, before hastily deleting it, leading to speculation the head of his beloved Aussie operations was for the chop.

And the media mogul again knifed him on the social network when he spoke of “ignorant consultants”, no doubt the Boston Consulting bods brought in by Kim to help his digital revolution, as damaging the company. In fairness, the first-quarter results showed News Corp’s Aussie papers down 22 per cent. Bad times.

7. 2DayFMkyle and jackie o

It’s safe that say that Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) Today Network has had a rough run this year. The station may be within a nats pube of losing its license because of last year’s “royal prank call” incident involving personalities Mel Greig and Michael Christian.

The ACMA is set to publish a report on the incident after SCA’s application to the Federal Court to stop the media watchdog was thrown out. Greig is also suing the station for distress. Then there was the revelation its biggest stars Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson would be leaving the station at the end of the year, which saw SCA’s shares lose more than $100m.

The station was also rapped by the ASX who demanded an explanation as to why they did not announce the news to shareholders first.

2013 Annual


This post comes from the Encore & mUmBRELLA Annual available on iPad and iPhone.

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