Year In Review: January – Angry vegans; death of Cleo; Agency’s birthday burlesque

2016 was another year of major change and transformation in the media and marketing world. Mumbrella provides a month-by-month recap of the most read and biggest stories that affected the industry.

The year kicked off with with Lee Lin Chin at centre-stage, as the new ‘lambassador’ for the Meat & Livestock Australia Lamb campaign.

Year in Review logo

The ad by the Monkeys gathered together Australian personalities including Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, retired cricketer Mitchell Johnson and chef George Calombaris.

Scott Nowell, co-founder of The Monkeys, said he hoped he “surprised” people and sold “a shitload of lamb”.

Surprise was not quite the reaction the agency received, with the Advertising Standards Bureau fast-tracking an investigation into the Australia Day lamb ad.

More than 240 complainants criticised the advertisement, noting their distress from the violent behaviours in the ad, most notably the burning of a table in a vegan’s home.Lamb vegan complaint MLA

The concept of Operation Boomerang offended indigenous Australians who dub Australia Day ‘Invasion Day.’

Surprises and controversy continued to pile in, with Optus’ announcement of one of its biggest agency reshuffles in its recent history.

Optus had originally worked predominantly with creative agency M&C Saatchi and media agency Starcom.

Following Optus’ announcement, the roster extended to Big Red, Emotive, With Collective, The Works and United States based agency AKQA.

While the industry was shaken by the announcement, Dr Mumbo briefly distracted readers with The Courier Mail’s photo of “a grieving male kangaroo grasping on to the dying mother of a nearby joey.” 


It was a heartfelt story until The Australian Museum’s principal research scientist Dr Mark Eldridge suggested the kangaroo was in fact sexually aroused.

In mid January, Helen McCabe stepped down from her role as editor-in-chief of the Australian Women’s Weekly, following a six year stint.

Within the week, Bauer Media announced it would close long-standing young women’s magazine Cleo and would also shift Dolly’s focus to a bi-monthly, digital-first property.

cleo jan 2016

Little did the industry know, it was to be the beginning of the end for some of Australia’s leading young women’s magazines.

In more positive news, 303 Lowe rebranded to 303 MullenLowe, taking on Mullen’s global octopus logo and expanding into the PR space.

As the month came towards a close, Mumbrella revealed Foxtel had axed more than 100 staff as the company tried to streamline customer services.

However, the most controversial story of the month was yet to come.

When Mumbrella’s editorial team collaborated to present editorial comment on sexism in the advertising industry. It was a divisive topic.


‘It’s 2016. Let’s stop being an industry where girls jump out of birthday cakes,’ was driven by the events that took place at M&C Saatchi’s 21st birthday.

The story sparked more than 200 comments, leading to a public apology by M&C Saatchi.


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