Communications Council becomes Advertising Council Australia with WPP joining

The advertising industry’s peak body, The Communications Council, has rebranded to Advertising Council Australia (ACA) as it focuses on “reinjecting confidence in our industry,” according to chief executive Tony Hale.

Advertising Council Australia will also have a new member and board member, in the market’s biggest holding company WPP and its CEO Jens Monsees, respectively. WPP was not previously part of The Communications Council.

The body’s new logo

On why WPP – which was contacted for comment – has decided now was the right time to become a member, CEO of The Monkeys and ACA chair Mark Green said: “I think we’re much better represented across the industry. I think the work we’re doing in and around the key pillars is much more pronounced. And I think they probably felt like they’d be on the outside if they weren’t inside, trying to drive the industry forward.

“And I think Jens [Monsees] saw that when he came in [as CEO]. Just to make sure we’re representing the whole of the industry, it’s a good inclusion, because they’re a big part of it.

“We’ve got to have the most influential members part of it. And I think that’s also just part of the renewed focus – making sure we do represent the industry and its players, not having any factions sitting outside. I think it’s a really positive addition and I enjoy the frenemy vibe around the boardroom table.”

By relaunching, the body is going back to its roots. It was previously called the Advertising Federation of Australia (AFA) but was renamed a decade ago to bring media agencies into the fold.

The rebrand coincides with a simplified offering and a new strategy which will see a number of initiatives rolled out. This includes an accreditation program for members in the back half of this year, which will evolve over the next two years to set minimum standards, and a reconciliation action plan.

Green admitted, “the organisation wasn’t in as good a shape as it could be,” while Hale acknowledged “The Comms Council still had legacy issues left over from the AFA”.

Accordingly, it was time to “refocus what we do as an industry body, re-evaluate what we stand for, the programs we deliver and how we present ourselves to the broader business community,” Green added.

Mark Green Mumbrella CommsCon Conference

Green is the ACA’s chair

“The name change is significant,” noted AFA board member and Publicis Groupe CEO, Michael Rebelo, “because it gives us a new clarity of purpose, and I think that is one thing that the industry as a whole needs. There’s a lot of confusion and a lot of schizophrenia, depending on where you sit in this business.”

Hale conceded that “over the last 15 to 18 months, we’ve probably been a bit quiet on diversity and inclusion, I think it’d be fair to say”, but the body’s diversity and inclusion committee will be reformed in the coming months.

As for mental health standards, Hale added: “To be honest, I’m not sure that, as an industry, we’re the right person to be setting minimum mental health standards. But there are organisations out there, and I think Fair Work have got some mental health [information].

“It might be that we ensure that they’ve [member companies] got mental health policies in place as part of their staff handbooks and you can audit whether members are putting them in place and that sort of stuff. Whether you actually benchmark it against external things, I think we’re open to it but we’re not that far down the track yet.”

CEO Tony Hale

The ACA has also worked with the Department of Home Affairs and the Media Federation of Australia to develop an Advertising Industry Labour Agreement, available only to ACA and MFA members, targeted at attracting overseas talent to cover key skill shortages. The Effies and AWARD Awards have also been revamped.

“Whilst the name change is important to signal the new strategic direction, programs such as accreditation and the advertising effectiveness reports aim to enhance our value to our clients,” Rebelo said.

The new visual identity was created by brand and design consultancy Maud, part of Accenture Interactive, with a new website launched and other assets to be released in the coming weeks.


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