If 2016 was the year in which diversity and gender equality (or lack of it) came to the fore in the media, marketing and advertising industries, then the opening of October exemplified this.
Nick Law and Sarah Barclay speaking at Advertising Week 2016
The month kicked off with Mumbrella revealing one of Australia’s most successful female creatives moved to the US to progress her career because nobody would promote her locally.
Sarah Barclay, creative director at JWT in the US, made the revelations at an Advertising Week New York panel curated by Mumbrella.
Barclay’s Australian career had included nearly five years as an art director at now defunct Australian agency The Campaign Palace and more than eight years at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne – but she felt forced to go abroad in 2000.
She told the Advertising Week audience: “For me I’d reached a level in Australia where they weren’t actually recognising women. I had to move somewhere else to get that next level up, which pissed me off back then.”
The very first day of October also saw a significant blunder for The Age, with a half-page ad for Victoria University appearing in Saturday’s paper commiserating: “In spite of the disappointment of the Grand Final loss, the Bulldogs showed incredible heart and sportsmanship until the final siren, led by skipper and VU student Easton Wood” – despite the team’s historic win.
The incorrect ad which appeared in The Age on 1 October
VU confirmed it had handed Fairfax two versions of the ad, with The Herald Sun printing the correct version and The Age making the mistake.
October also saw the launch of a campaign for financial services brand Latitude Financial Services starring Alec Baldwin. The now regular Trump impersonator appeared as himself and challenged Australians on why they have so few choices in areas such as TV, telecommunications providers and banks.
The campaign by CHE Proximity was the culmination of 13 months’ work.
As October rolled on, it was reported Yahoo7 was axing 10% of its workforce as the company dumped “non-essential business units”.
Ed Harrison, CEO of Yahoo7, said at the time: “Like any business, we regularly review our operations to ensure we remain agile and responsive to changing market conditions. As a result of our most recent review, we have announced a number of team changes which include proposed redundancies in the Australian team, as we continue to focus on growth products.”
Women and how they’re viewed and treated within the industry were back in the spotlight in mid-October when Weight Watchers admitted it made a mistake with a PR stunt in which the company sent female journalists ‘mood light bulbs‘ to support a campaign which claimed that Australian women do not want to have sex with the lights on due to poor body image.
After backlash from the recipients and on social media, Weight Watchers’ senior marketing manager, Rebecca Melville, admitted the light bulb might not have made sense without the full context of the campaign.
Not long after however, the full campaign was scrapped, with Weight Watchers conceding it would no longer “actively promote’ the Black campaign which linked weight loss to sexual confidence.
There was more backtracking and apologising in October when Channel Ten apologised to Thailand’s ambassador to Australia after topical panel show Have You Been Paying Attention? made jokes about the country’s reaction to the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The network also promised to never broadcast the segment again and removed it from the Tenplay website.
Shake-ups continued in the media and publishing world in October with Bauer Media announcing it would shut magazines and streamline its presence around five consumer segments.
All magazines faced a “viability” audit, with CEO Nick Chan telling staff the company would focus on five pillars: Women’s Entertainment & Lifestyle; Homes; Food; Fashion; Health & Beauty; Motoring and Trader.
In late October, Meat & Livestock Australia’s ad – which framed lamb as the only meat which can unite people of nearly every background – was cleared of racism toward white people by the Ad Standards Bureau.
The ASB concluded “that overall the advertisement is inclusive and the humour is employed equally across all the races/ethnicities portrayed in the advertisement”.
The most read story of the month came in late October when Qantas revealed a new logo and typography for just the fifth time in the airline’s history.
In a move away from the 2007 iteration of the design by Hans Hulsboch, the new version was created by consultant designer Marc Newson, in partnership with design agency Houston Group. Newson said the re-design “aims to retain the fundamental essence of the flying kangaroo but also move the brand forward”.
How the Qantas livery has evolved over the years
We capped off October with all things Australian Survivor. The show, which will return in 2017, received praise for its intelligent casting and high production values, with some contending it deserved a bigger audience.
Marketer and Mumbrella contributor Brooke Hemphill noted in a guest post that the show’s winner Kristie Bennett, who quit her job as an account executive as Sydney communications agency Bang to chase her childhood dream of winning the program, was demonstrative of the communication industry’s reliance on introverts and quiet achievers.