Mumbrella Awards jurors: Independent agencies are ‘surging’ at the moment

The Match Media team after winning their agency of the year award

The Match Media team after winning their agency of the year award

Last night saw Match Media, which this week sold to holding company Publicis Group, recognised in the media agency and culture categories while The Monkeys won creative agency and TV ad of the year. 

“Independents are surging in the market at the moment for a number of reasons, some of which is that they are in fact independent,” said Cam Carter, founding partner of consultancy Navigare, who was a juror on the creative award jury. 

“They are owned by the very people driving the business. Ownership provides a different motive, a different deep passion – now that is not to say that the CEOs of the major holding companies don’t have that but when you own something it is different.”

Senior clients on the juries said there were stand out characteristics among “the indies” which meant that that they building great relationships and doing strong work.

The Monkeys enjoyed another successful year

The Monkeys enjoyed another successful year

former CMO of Samsung Australia

“It gives them the agility to adapt to the market and client needs. That’s what makes them special, now I think there is a lot of value in what the networks bring but it’s how quickly and easily that is adapted for the unique circumstances in Australia.

“That is where the independents have been able to formulate something different”

Lenior also singled out the importance of culture citing Match Media’s win of the culture category for a second year in a row.

“The other big thing they have been able to do is create their own culture,” he said. “What we saw from a cultural perspective was extremely unique and something that is not brought from overseas and that is what a lot of clients are buying.”

Former Wotif marketing boss and creative jury member Michael Betteridge said: “As clients, we don’t set out to go to an independent agency but as a client when I am going to agencies I am looking to see they understand a client’s brief and who are tackling a problem head on and treat things not as a communications challenge but a business challenge.

“I think what we are seeing – and it is clear through the awards tonight –  is that independents are winning not because they are independent but just because they are at the top of their game.”

This week’s decision by Match Media to sell to Publicis and become part of the Blue 449 Network has drawn a lot of attention with CEO John Preston citing the challenges of technology, data and resources as a key factor in the decision. 

TrinityP3’s Darren Woolley said that meant they normally placed emphasis on strong client relationships.

“Independents are inclined to be more client centric, they are not bogged down by hierarchy and are not as overly focused on meeting their financial performance and so are able to put money and resources into building much better resources into building relationships with clients,” said Woolley CEO of TrinityP3 marketing management consultants.

“But it is particularly difficult in the media area where there needs to be a big investment now in technology to be able to keep up with everyone else but independents still put the bulk of their money in building strong relationships.

Navigare’s Carter had a similar perspective: “They have fewer resources at their beck and call and I think that makes them smarter and sharper in the resources that they build, either directly within their operations, or how they are align those operations – it is by choice and on the basis of excellence, rather than on the basis of availability.”

Nic Christensen 

See the full list of Mumbrella Award 2015 winners and more pictures from the night here.


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