Dr Mumbo

Knowing your audience

And so to Nine Entertainment Co’s ‘Upfront & Personal’ presentation in Sydney yesterday, which many in the room agreed was the most in-depth sales pitch they had ever seen.


The format was unusual, to say the least, three hours of most of Australia’s most senior media buyers sitting in an auditorium as Nine paraded out talent from quite literally every part of its network.

From live crosses to talk about the US election with Karl Stefanovic and Laurie Oakes in New York, to an on-stage interview with a Real Housewife Yolanda Hadid, a discussion on sport featuring Shane Warne and a panel of Nine journalists where the main topic of conversation seemed to be how they used to use typewriters.


Even Julia Morris, who hosted Ten’s upfronts last Friday, made an appearance on stage. Maybe old network rivalries are being buried after all.

One of the lines Nine kept using was about how it “knows our audience”, which came laden with a heavy amount of irony for many people when the topics of conversation veered into Lyme disease and Donald Trump’s hair (thanks Warney) – not exactly topics to make buyers spend more cash with Nine.


Dr Mumbo couldn’t help but wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars was being spent on the afternoon – and that was just from the hourly rate of the 800 or so senior people in the audience.

Even the woman responsible for the ‘voice of god’ joked at the interval after the first 90 minutes: “Right folks we’re a quarter of the way through…only kidding; it’s half way.”

But as one senior buyer pointed out agencies are happy to give MCN five hours of staff time at its Homefronts, so why not give Nine the respect of a few hours given they spend more money with them.

The event started off with Hamish and Andy taking to the stage and Hamish taking CEO Hugh Marks “welcome home” comment a little too literally by making himself at home by removing his pants.


Hamish proceeded to entertain the room with his version of how Nine CEO Hugh Marks managed to lure Andy to the network.

“Me and Hugh are out playing golf, it’s a Friday afternoon, we do this a lot, I go out with the CEO a lot, we were on the 55th hole, it’s a long day of golf, only 15 to go and we’ve done the fully 70 holes. It was a par-10 and I’d holed-in-one’d it, if I remember correctly, it’s a pretty good shot in golf, if you’re into golf.

“And Hugh, he was having some trouble, he’d lost his ball. Hugh turned to me and goes ‘hey, did you hear about Andy next year?’ And I said ‘yeah, I’ve heard’ and he said ‘He’s going to be the Bachelor on Channel 10’, and I went ‘I know, it’s his dream’ and he went ‘how do we get him, how do we get him to Channel 9?’

“I said ‘Mate, I know Andy, I’m his good friend, but good luck, this is his dream’ and Hugh said ‘No, I’ve got to try’.

Smoking, smoking, smoking

Smoking, smoking, smoking

“So we got to the club house, I was having a couple of cigars and Hugh goes, ‘mind my cigar’, so I’m like how do you do three? Smoking, smoking, smoking. Hugh went off and made a call and came back in and said ‘I’ve got him, I’ve bloody got Andy Lee, I’ve stolen him from Channel 10, he’s not the Bachelor anymore, I’ve sunk Channel 10 and we’ve got the big dog.’

“Again – true story, Channel 10 have not got Andy as the Bachelor next year, I know a lot of you guys are in media buying so you might have deals in place with Ten, we’re going to take a five minute break now so you can cancel all advertising with Channel 10, Hugh sunk the network, he got the big dog, he bloody did it.”

Another bright spot came from the end of an interview between Australian actor Rhys Muldoon and NCIS show runner Shane Brennan. Muldoon was clearly getting the red light of death from the organisers, but decided now was a good time to tell a joke, apparently apropos nothing.


Rhys Muldoon undeterred by red light of death from Nine event organisers

“A friend of mine told me recently he was dating twins. So I asked him, ‘how do you tell them apart?’ and he said ‘It’s easy, one is a girl and has short bobbed hair, the other’s a bloke and has a dick’.”

That certainly got the audience’s attention.

Possibly the most bizarre moment was saved for the end when CEO Hugh Marks closed the show by trotting out onto the lavishly assembled moving set from behind some screens with about 50 of Nine’s on-screen stars, many of whom had turned up literally for that part.

They were then made to stand on the stage and wave and dance awkwardly while the audience rushed for the bathrooms after another 90-minute session.


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