2015 Annual: The year that was – May

annual2015 (1)It 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.

May kicked off with a controversy over SBS’s Struggle Street which grabbed national headlines. 

Struggle StreetThe three-part series was criticised as “poverty porn” with the hype and anger building until the premiere, but after it was aired generally received well and was a ratings success for the multicultural public broadcaster, grabbing 935,000 metro viewers.

Australian adman Sean Cummins made global headlines for his role in the latest music video for pop star Sia which is actually a brand funded piece of content for the Heidi Klum lingerie range. 

Cummins & Partners New York brokered the deal, which saw supermodel Klum front the Australian singer songwriter’s video clip for the song Fire Meet Gasoline, as a cost-effective way to showcase her new range with underwear company Bendon to a global audience.

Bendon funded production of the video, which also stars actor Pedro Pascal – who played Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones – and which has now amassed more than 36m views on Youtube.

May also saw one of the biggest defections of 2015 occurring with GroupM investment boss Danny Bass taking the CEO role at IPG Mediabrands.

danny bass henry tajer

Bass and Tajer.

The move was a major coup for Henry Tajer who was departing for his new global role and saw one of Australia’s most powerful media buyers suddenly switching camps.

john singleton takes a swing at Jack Cowin telegraph front pageMay also saw legendary ad man John Singleton make headlines after he lashed out at Fairfax Media and Network Ten director Jack Cowin with a broken wine glass. The incident was captured by paparazzi and made the front page of the Daily Telegraph the next day.

“Singleton was displeased with this and whacked Cowin over the head with a bottle,” the paper reported Singleton telling them, referring to himself in the third person.

There was also news coming out of Singo’s old company STW with the marketing group announcing that Moon Communications has been shuffled into the Ikon Communications group as the media agency went full service. 

The move surprised many in the market and saw the agency promising to deliver better results across the group through the new structure.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 6.41.11 pmMumbrella was also in New York for the IAB Digital Newfronts to see many of the global media company presentations. One of the most read stories of the coverage was the news that News Corp was trialling a Buzzfeed style competitor, called Internet Action Force, which it itself described as “buzzworthy”.

May was the month Fiat Chrysler launched Federal Court action against its former CEO Clyde Campbell alleging he misused more than $30m of company funds during his four year tenure, much of it related to marketing services.

Papers lodged with the Federal Court by the carmaker, whose brands include Jeep and Alfa Romeo, include allegations Campbell used $550,000 set aside for a “mobile outdoor floating billboard” to buy a 40-foot boat, and another $190,000 in invoices for production costs “were used toward the purchase of a plane”.

It also claimed he charged the company for Chrysler cars given to former cricketer Shane Warne and then partner Liz Hurley, and ex-Socceroo Harry Kewell and his wife as “brand ambassadors” for the company in the UK, with Fiat Chrysler claiming  it “did not have an interest in brand ambassadors in the United Kingdom territory”.

Tracey SpicerAhead of the launch of the like of Huffpo in Australia journalist Tracey Spicer accused its rival The Guardian of “exploitation” of freelance workers after she was asked to write a 1,000-word branded content column on women’s financial empowerment for client ANZ for $140 – 14 cents per word.

Speaking to Mumbrella Spicer said: “This is a major media outlet that’s done a deal with one of the big four banks and the way it is making money for two very powerful players is by exploiting freelance writers.”

The Guardian insisted the situation was simply a case were the “wrong rates were applied”.

Finally late in May, Mumbrella revealed that News Corp Australia was scrapping its struggling free mX commuter newspapers.

The news came just two months after a shake up in the division which saw staff redundancies and a redesign of the newspapers which are handed to commuters out in the afternoon at train stations and other commuter locations.

News Corp announced the move to staff internally in the last hour with News Corp CEO Julian Clarke sending an email to staff blaming the “swift shift to mobile” of its “young commuter audience” for making the “decision inevitable”.


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