Dear Kevin, where is the fair go for Aussie adland?

Glen CondieIn this guest post, Glen Condie asks Kevin Rudd if he might put his money where his mouth is by giving business to local agencies instead of the multinationals

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I keep seeing and hearing you on my television and radio. I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that you feel Australian businesses should be given a fair go and that small business is critical to the health of our nation. I agree keeping profits in the hands of Australian companies can only help us. Most importantly when I hear you saying that you will ensure that Australian companies will get their “fair share”, I get all giddy.

There’s one thing though that I don’t understand. You dole out millions each year to ad agencies and I can’t seem to remember many gigs going to independent Australian companies. You see, Mr. Prime Minister, I’ve worked for two Australian agencies since 1999: Maverick and Wonder. In that time these companies have been awarded exactly zero dollars in projects for you, despite being very well regarded, winning lots of awards and handling clients such as Telstra, Westpac, Qantas and Nestlé, who seem to think we’re up to it.

Maybe we’re just aren’t up to it. Fair enough. I thought I would check with a couple of my buddies who also have independent, Australian-owned agencies to see how they are faring.

I called Paul Williams, CEO of BWM Advertising. They handled Telstra for years, they win lots of effectiveness awards, have a list of great clients and big offices in Sydney in Melbourne. Nope, they don’t have any government business either.

Hmmm. Ok, I’ll ask another friend; Justin Drape. His company The Monkeys have won just about everything possible in the last ten years. Huge accounts, Agency of the Year gongs, buckets of Cannes Lions. It would be hard to argue with their spectacular success and that they are not one of Australia’s leading agencies, if not the leading. Nope, none either. That’s a surprise.

It got me thinking, Mr. Prime Minister; what’s the go? So I thought I would call and ask. “Put it in an email”, said your press office, so I did.

I waited a few days. No answer. I know that you are very busy at the moment, Mr. Prime Minister, with that election and all. So I emailed again.

I thought while I’m waiting I might have a look at some of the “blue ribbon” accounts that you hand out. Ones that I reckon Aussie-owned agencies might be pretty good at. You know like, advertising the country or defending it – now that requires patriotism.

So Mr. Prime Minister, here’s a question. Your communications unit has just announced the shortlist for the Defense Forces recruitment account. Eight agencies on it in all. On the long shortlist are exactly zero independent Aussie agencies. You are, however, well represented by America, Britain and France, terribly well in fact. Is there no Aussie agency up to to the job? With due respect, sir, nought out of eight doesn’t strike me as our “fair share”.

Perhaps Aussie agencies are better at promoting Australia? Apparently not, Mr. Prime Minister. Tourism Australia has just moved its much sought-after account from DDB to Clemenger BBDO. Or if you look at it another way, from Omnicom to Omnicom, New York to New York, or Peter to Paul.

From where I’m standing, Mr. Prime Minister, it doesn’t seem you are behind us. It doesn’t seem as though you really believe in Australian business.

I emailed you again, but alas no response. I called your communications unit but they wouldn’t talk to me. I called your Communications Minister’s office; with a name like Albo he’s gotta be dinky-die I reckon. No dice. They didn’t exactly say bugger off, but I got the message.

You guys are probably in a strategy meeting with the Americans you brought over to run your campaign. Oh well…

Here’s the thing, Mr. Prime Minister: I really don’t mind if you don’t support Aussie companies. You see, people that are entrepreneurial enough to start their own business never rely on government. And if you think that there are better folk for the job, regardless of who owns the companies and where the profits go, then I respect that as well.

Just shut up about giving Australian businesses a fair go. Or do it. Either way is fine with me.

Get back to me when you can.

Glen Condie is creative director at Wonder and is on the BE Festival advisory board.


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