IMAA calls for NSW Government to update media agency tender to allow independents to partake

The NSW Government’s $78 million master media account was recently put out to pitch, with the Expression of Interest (EOI) seeking a “single media agency supplier, or panel of agencies from one media agency holding group”, effectively ruling out any Australia-owned indie agencies.

The Independent Media Agencies Association (IMAA) has publicly responded to this, by seeking urgent amendment to the state government’s Expression of Interest, which if the current conditions go ahead, will see the contract limited to a multi-national holding group.

The NSW Government is looking to consolidate its media planning and buying for all departments under a single agency’s contract, which the IMAA states is beyond the capabilities of a single independent agency given the size of the proposed contract.

IMAA founders and leadership team

The EOI closed last week, with the pitching process set to run well into 2022, with the new contract to commence late next year.  The NSW Government’s current client list includes agencies UM, OMD, Havas Media and Atomic 212. 

In a statement from the body that represents more than 80 independent media agencies in Australia, the IMAA said the EoI was “released under the cover of COVID, with independent agencies unaware of it”, also stating the association has unsuccessfully attempted to meet with Victor Dominello, the NSW customer service minister.

IMAA general manager, Sam Buchanan, said: “The local media buying industry has taken a big hit over the last 18 months. To have the NSW Government exclude us from this contract is not in the national interest. This will send the money offshore to support another country’s economy and not our own.”

IMAA’s Sam Buchanan

“We have reached out to the NSW Government to try to find a way to include the local industry, but it seems they are only talking to the multinationals. If the NSW Government took the time to get to know the local media buying industry, they would see that it employs thousands of talented people and their businesses are Australian owned. This is a lazy policy that will impact the livelihood of Australian business owners.

The IMAA has requested several changes to the now expired EoI. Those include a review and amending of the process, as it currently locks out independents; a request to ensure an equal share of government campaigns are awarded to independents; Australian owned agencies are included in the government preferred suppliers list; and that an independent voice should be secured on the selection board, to ensure equal distribution and fair balance on all government campaigns.

Buchanan accused the government of being hypocritical in declining local, independent agencies the opportunity to tender, while talking “proudly about supporting the local economy first”.

“Australian businesses have not only been overlooked, but locked out. It’s un-Australian and anticompetitive.” 

Current international holding companies with presence in Australia include Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, WPP, Dentsu, IPG and Havas.

It also accused the government of breaching its own procurement policy, which supposedly aims to set aside 10% of contracts to small and medium-sized enterprises. It submitted a Freedom of Information request for the NSW Government to disclose its advisory committee members, who will be advising the decision making on the master media account, with this request having been ignored so far, according to the IMAA.

“The NSW Government appears not to have allocated any contract budget to Australian owned agencies from what we can see. We also believe that the advisory committee is comprised exclusively of multinational agency executives, who have influenced the Government in the wording of the EoI. The question has to be asked: why isn’t anyone telling us who is on the committee?”

The IMAA is a national, not-for-profit industry association for the independent media agency industry, and after launching in February, 2020. The industry announced the members of its new leadership team for 2021 earlier this year, with agencies in NSW, Queensland and Victoria all represented.


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