AANA CEO contenders emerge as global hunt for Gloster replacement continues

A group of contenders is beginning to emerge to head the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) after the announcement current CEO Sunita Gloster will head to Ten for a senior commercial and strategy role in August. Simon Canning looks at who's in the running.

The global hunt is underway for the new head of the AANA at a time when the industry faces major structural reform after Sunita Gloster announced her move to the broadcaster just a week ago.

Recruiters Hourigan International – which placed Gloster in the role originally – are understood to be seeking a mix of experience at CMO, MD or CEO level with a strong background in compliance and dealing with regulatory issues.

AANA CEO Sunita Gloster revitalised the organisation

Gloster took the reins of the AANA in 2013 at a point when the association was seen a a closed boys’ club that was failing to tackle major issues facing the advertising industry.

During her tenure she increased the scope of the industry’s self regulation and began to use it as a platform to question major industry issues such as ad fraud and viewability, while increasing membership by more then 50 members.

Gloster also launched the AANA’s annual Reset conference bringing celebrities such as Monika Lewinsky to Australia and launched a regular marketing-focused show on Sky News.

The rise of the AANA also came with competitive tensions as the Australian Data Marketing Association (ADMA) broadened its scope and competed for members under the stewardship of Jodie Sangster, who has also increased the industry body’s membership exponentially.

While the brief for Gloster was to rebuild the AAANA, the new CEO will face a range of significant challenges including the continued questions about transparency and the rise of programmatic buying.

Another major issue the new AANA leader will face will be the impact of media reforms on the advertising market, with mergers and acquisitions expected to concentrate media ownership.

Maintaining the viability of self-regulation in an increasingly deregulated market will be another challenge along with the role of advertising in protecting the future of journalism.

Challenging the duopoly of Facebook and Google in digital media is expected to be another major issue the association will have to tackle on behalf of its members which, ironically, includes Google.

With a fairly thinly layered executive team, the replacement for Gloster is expected to be an external appointment, although there are a couple of possible contenders for the role who would allow the organisation a level of continuity in leadership.

AANA head of legal and regulatory Simone Brandon a possible internal candidate for the role

Internally the most likely candidate is Simone Brandon, the AANA’s director of policy and legal affairs.

Brandon joined the AANA in 2014 and has been in charge of developing the the association’s road map for future regulation.

While her background is firmly rooted in legal, her previous roles as deputy general counsel and head of the marketing and communications teams with Vodafone Australia deliver the background the could be a  strong foundation for the next stage of the AANA’s evolution.

Her skills could prove particularly advantageous if the impact of media reforms on the industry become a major focus. At the same time her affinity with emerging technologies could also come into play.

However, sources close to the AANA have signalled that the appointment is more likely to be an external one with a number of serious contenders currently between assignments.

Former AANA chair Inese Kingsmill would have been a front runner but for her move to Virgin Australia

One major contender could have been Inese Kingsmill, former head of marketing at Telstra, a former chairperson of the AANA and a close confidant of Gloster. However Kingsmill’s recent appointment as CMO of Virgin Australia has taken her out of the mix before the job vacancy was even announced.

FMCG marketing veteran John Broome is on the board of the ASB and remains close to the AANA

John Broome, former marketing lead with FMCG giants Unilever, Kellogg’s, Nestle and Goodman Fielder, is emerging as the contender with the biggest potential.

Broome has remained close to the AANA as a board member of the Advertising Standards Bureau.

Currently working as a consultant after leaving Unilever in the wake of a restructure in March, Broome would bring a broad level of experience to the role, with a particular understanding of the pressures facing FMCG businesses and those marketing food products – one of the flash-points of self-regulation when it comes to food advertising and children.

Broome has also been outspoken, warning marketers not to fear the challenges of connecting with millennials who value“authenticity” and “transparency” which were becoming keys to building a brand.

Sophie Madden’s experience running an industry association would be invaluable

Sophie Madden, currently CEO of the Media Federation of Australia, is another strong candidate for the role.

Madden has been at the helm of the MFA for more than four years, but boasts a strong pedigree having previously held roles including marketing services head for Kraft Foods, global head of media for Vodafone Enterprise and media director for Unilever.

Madden was the first CEO of the MFA and during her stint she has worked to raise the profile of the organisation.

Over that time the MFA has set policies to deal with transparency in an era where the industry was rocked by major reporting scandals and the revelations some agencies were running value banks.

She has also put in place programs to address massive staff churn in the industry – a project which is ongoing – and her experience running an industry body would allow her to slip seamlessly into the role.

Sue Zerk has been a regular contributor to the AANA

Sue Zerk, marketing director at 20th Century Fox, is another possible starter in the race.

Zerk has been with the entertainment company for more than a decade and has been a regular contributor to the AANA.

Her passion for the association matched with her understanding of its operations could see her as one of the front-running replacements for Gloster if she puts her hand up.

ADMA CEO Jodie Sangster turned the organisation around

From the department of unlikely-long-shots ADMA’s CEO Sangster has reinvented what was formerly known as the Australian Direct Marketing Association into a dynamic and multi-faceted organisation.

A move to the AANA could be seen as a natural progression by some, with her experience working with major advertisers and handling tough regulatory issues. She has also raised the possibility of industry association mergers in the past.

However, Sangster has also invested heavily in ADMA and may not see her job as ‘mission accomplished’ yet.

Sue Morphet’s experience would be coveted by the AANA and its members

Another big name who could be a consideration is former Pacific Brands boss Sue Morphet. Now juggling a number of directorships, Morphet would come to the role with a clear understanding of the needs of the membership and has been an effective agent of change in her past roles.

However, mitigating Morphet’s potential candidacy would be her love for Melbourne and the fact she has a number of board positions which she would be unlikely to want to give up.

Gloster leaves her role for new pastures at Ten in August, but the search could go beyond that date.

Whoever steps up to lead the advertiser advocate in its next stage could face one of the most challenging periods in the organisation’s history.

Not since the Federal Court scrapped the advertising industry accreditation system in the mid 1990s has the AANA faced new challenges on such a scale.

Just who gets what will be a very public-facing job will be a clear pointer as to how Australia’s advertisers aim to tackle the new era of media reform and digital development.


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