2015 Annual: The year that was – July

annual2015 (1)2015 was another year of major change and transformation in the media and marketing world. Mumbrella’s Nic Christensen and Miranda Ward provide a month-by-month recap of the most read and biggest stories that affected the industry.

July kicked off with controversy out of the Cannes Lions advertising festival. It was revealed a public safety campaign shortlisted at the Cannes Lions was entered without the authorisation of the government client, used the logo of another public body without permission, and made a misleading claim about the work.

Despite Transport for New South Wales saying that it did not authorise the entry from digital agency VML, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority questioning claims made in the case study video for Blackspot Beacons, the organisers of the awards festival did not disqualify the entry.

Five weeks after the Cannes Lions launched an “investigation”, organisers stated they would allow the public safety to be withdrawn and not disqualified, despite a rule stating “entries cannot be cancelled or removed from the competition after 15 May 2015“.

Blindspot Beacons

Nine came under fire at the start of July after thousands of Foxtel customers were unable to watch the Ashes series in the UK because the Nine Network refused to pay for satellite transmission of its high definition Gem channel.

Fairfax Media revealed plans it was going to cut more than a third of its editorial staff in its Australian Community Media (ACM) business and axe a masthead as it looked to make sweeping changes to the business. Staff were told 37 of the 95 full time equivalent editorial positions would go, with agricultural masthead The Land facing eight of those cuts once group roles are taken into account, with its editorial team to be relocated from western Sydney to central west NSW.

Global FMCG giant Unilever moved its $59m media account from Mindshare to PHD. It was one the biggest account moves in Australia this year and a blow to GroupM, which at the time was undergoing significant management changes following the departure of CEO John Steedman in June.

Neil Lawrence

Neil Lawrence

Tragedy struck in the middle of July with the news of Neil Lawrence’s death. Lawrence, one of Australia’s most respected creatives, died during a surfing holiday in the Maldives. He was responsible for a slew of high profile and respected creative work including campaigns like Kevin 07, the Minerals Council of Australia’s successful campaign opposing the resources super tax to ‘Keep Mining Strong’ and Qantas’ recent “Feels like home” brand campaign.

Tributes poured in for Lawrence as the news broke, with fellow Labor ad strategist Dee Madigan saying: “Neil wrote some of the best political advertisements. His work on the 2009 Lawrence Springborg ad is one of the very few election ads which actually changed the result.

“He was extremely talented and just really lovely to deal with. I remember I got a text from a text from him at 6am after the last Queensland state election saying ‘I hope you have a hell of a hangover you deserve it’.

“He was just such a lovely lovely man.”

Media commentator and creative director and owner of Campaign Edge Madigan followed Tracey Spicer and slammed the Huffington Post for an unsolicited approach to write for free. “It’s a very profitable organisation basically approaching me unsolicited to write for them for free,” Madigan said.

Omnicom agency OMD boasted the largest overall billings for a media agency in Australia. The figures covered financial year of 2014-15 and showed OMD had claimed billings of $1.33bn, while Carat boosted its billings by 12 per cent to $1.30bn, leapfrogging GroupM agency Mediacom which claimed $1.23m in billings.

However GroupM retained the crown for highest overall billings for a holding group claiming activity of $2.844bn across its four agencies Mediacom, Mindshare, MEC and Maxus.



Former Cummins & Partners creative Sara Oteri was eliminated from cooking contest Masterchef. Comparing the reality TV experience to her advertising experience, Oteri said: “Team challenges were like pitches; figure your plans out early and don’t change the idea (menu) just before service starts. And let’s just say working alongside someone as complex and creative as Sean Cummins prepared me for Marco Pierre White!”

In a massive move in TV land Network Ten CEO Hamish McLennan stepped down. He was replaced by chief operating officer Paul Anderson. McLennan it was later revealed left with an $8m golden goodbye courtesy of his share options.

Online car classified website won its court case against rival over a recent ad campaign which it said was misleading and deceptive. The Victorian Supreme Court said Carsales’ argument that many of the representations made in the campaign, which started on June 15, were false. Among the claims made in the case were that sells a consumer’s contact details to dealers, that passes on a consumer’s details to dealers without the consumer’s knowledge and that a consumer’s details are provided to a range of dealers if the consumer enquires about a car using the website.



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