Australian ad industry less forward-thinking than population says Havas chief content officer



Australia’s advertisers are less progressinve than the Australian population according to Havas’ global chief content officer Vin Farrell.

Speaking to Mumbrella, Farrell said the local market, compared to the US, has a culture that is “more digitally savvy and more forward-thinking than its advertising”.

“Its advertising business is focused more on traditional media but I think the community of people and the culture of Australia is more digitally savvy then it’s being served,” he said. 

“My guess is that’s because there’s probably fewer players interfering and disrupting the space. From a media standpoint, you might have more established players who still have their hand on the switch and don’t want to change.”

Farrell has a digital agency background having worked for over five years with R/GA in New York before joining Havas in April 2013.

On the common mistakes brands make when approaching content Farrell said “they try to make matched luggage”.

“They try to say this is a moving image asset and I’m going to take it and cut it, skin it and make it a 60 second commercial and cut it down to 15 and put it on Instagram. The notion of matched luggage, the media and the mediums need to be considered. What is the asset and where are you putting it – the role of channel is really important,” he said.

“Marketers or brands make the mistake of trying to jam too much into one piece of communication: it needs to be a metaphor, it needs to be a product demo, it needs to be a story and it needs to be done in a TV commercial in 30 seconds. We’re trying to fit too much into what we’re making.”

Farrell said it is important to remember that quality matters.

“We can’t commoditise the product of how we’re reaching people. Just because we have sophisticated data tools and sophisticated way of reaching people and buying media but we need to remember that difference and better is what’s going to differentiate your brand in a given space,” he said.

“Quality is important and the idea of creative in this new media space is changed.”

When asked about the potential threat “influencers” pose to the traditional ad industry, Farrell said there is room for both influencers and the traditional advertising, marketing and PR agencies at the table.

“Advertising and marketing agencies and PR agencies, there’s room for subject matter expertise in this business. Just because you’re an influencer doesn’t mean you know how to market for a brand, it means you know how to market for yourself and it means you understand the medium of how you got famous,” he said.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to build a business, it means you might know how to serve a market to an audience, there’s room at the table for everyone.

“Influencers are important, but I don’t think influencers alone are going to replace the marketing and advertising business.”

Miranda Ward


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