‘Melbourne is the new Adelaide because we lost focus’

Mark McCraith, Sean Cummins, Robin Hicks, Ian Coutts, Darren Woolley

The balance of power has shifted towards Sydney because Melburnians lost focus and allowed it to become “the new Adelaide”, pitch consultant Darren Woolley has claimed.

The TrinityP3 boss, who relocated the headquarters of his organisation from Melbourne to Sydney, said that a “loss of focus” had allowed Melbourne to be ursurped by Sydney as Australia’s top ad market.

“There was a time when you could argue that Melborne was easily the lead centre for business in Australia,” he said. “The cause of the shift has been a loss of focus. Melbourne has rested on its laurels.”

Melbourne born and raised, Woolley said he had wanted to live and do business in the city, but had moved HQ to Sydney because it had become “the centre of commerce in Australia.”

“Sydney is seen by most as the international city for business in Australia. It’s where many multinationals are. The head offices for the major media brands are Sydney based. So media agencies have their head offices in the city. The sheer size of spend is bigger in Sydney than Melbourne,” he said.

“Personally, I think the tide is against Melbourne. And I jokingly say – but maybe it’s not a joke – that Melbourne is the new Adelaide.”

CumminsRoss boss Sean Cummins argued that Sydney’s dominance was more perception than reality, and Sydney enjoyed more exposure because most ad trade titles were based in Sydney.

“The proliferation of advertising media in Sydney has created Sydney as a hotspot. Naturally the Sydney media fraternity have access to it and so their stories are more pronounced. If I read another fucking thing about Droga doing this or BMF doing that…”

“But you’ve got to ask yourself do we care that much anyway? Do we want that sort of attention? With the greater profile and the greater perception comes the scrutiny as well. And I don’t know if I want that scrutiny,” he said.

Cummins conceded that Melbourne had a perception problem. “But maybe it’s not a bad perception. Because also the perception is we’re a lot more creative, a lot more settled, less transient – and we are.”

“We’ve got good long corporate memories in this market as advertisers for brands, and we do it better. Sydney is extraordinarily transient, where there’s a revolving door of the next wunderkind from Britain,” said Cummins.

Cummins later said that the tide would turn back in Melbourne’s favour, using Aegis boss Harold Mitchell as an example to follow.

“People ask me, well, what do you want to do? And I’ve been saying to people, I want to be the next Harold Mitchell. Someone has to be. It might be one of you guys. But if not, I’ll do it,” he said.

“There’s no rule book. There’s no mission. There’s no anointment. There’s no entitlement. Harold Mitchell is someone who just went out there and did it.”

  • Mumbrella Question Time also featured Carlton Football Club communications director Ian Coutts and Maxus Melbourne COO Mark McCraith. Full audio from Mumbrella Question Time Melbourne to follow next week

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