Mumbrella’s top 15 news stories of 2023

To celebrate 15 years of Mumbrella this December, we are counting down the top 15 most-read news pieces, opinions and features of 2023. 

2023 was a wild year. There was certainly no shortage of news.

From redundancies, to TV ratings, working from home debates, and industry salaries, Mumbrella’s audience showed interest across a range of topics.

Here are the top 15 news stories read by Mumbrella’s audience in 2023:

15. Malcolm Turnbull labels Lachlan Murdoch ‘stupid’ and News Corporation ‘a political propaganda operation’

At an event hosted by Private Media’s Crikey publication, former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull described Lachlan Murdoch as “stupid”, and his family’s media operation, News Corp, as “a political and propaganda operation”.

It came after Crikey’s defence of a lawsuit filed by Murdoch last year, over an opinion piece penned by political editor Bernard Keane. The piece alleged that the Murdochs and their US cable channel Fox News were complicit in whipping up doubt about the legitimacy of the 2020 US election.

Turnbull said: “For Lachlan to sue over [the article] shows how stupid he is.”

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull

14. Alan Joyce to leave Qantas immediately as PR disaster claims CEO scalp

In September, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced he would step away from the role, bringing his retirement forward. CEO Designate Vanessa Hudson assumed his role.

The airline’s reputation was hammered by an ongoing PR crisis, when the ACCC alleged it “engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct” by advertising tickets for flights that had already been cancelled. Joyce had also just fronted a Senate committee, answering questions about high airfares in the wake of Qantas’ record $2.5 billion FY23 profit.

13. Foxtel admits defeat in the football streaming battle, cancelling BeIn Sports deal

Australian football fans were disappointed after Foxtel announced the cancellation of its partnership with Qatari-owned BeIn Sports.

Since 2016, BeIn’s deal with Foxtel gave users access to key European football competitions, such as La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy, Ligue 1 in France, Scottish Premier League, MLS and the Bundesliga in Germany as well as the ATP and WTA global tennis tours.

Foxtel initially launched three Bein Sports channels on its service in 2016 in order to appease football fans following the surprise loss of the English Premier League rights to Optus Sport.

12. WPP confirms redundancies post ASX-delisting

WPP confirmed that its Australian headquarters made 10 to 20 staff redundant following the delisting of the business on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), Mumbrella revealed.

A spokesperson told Mumbrella several of these roles have been migrated to WPP’s agencies in Australia.


11. Radio wars: ARN makes shock bid for SCA

In October, ARN Media – home to stations including the KIIS network, iHeartRadio and CADA – alongside private equity firm, Anchorage Capital Partners, made a non-binding indicative offer to acquire 100% of the fully diluted share capital of rival radio competitor, Southern Cross Austereo.

The move would see a ‘focused’ metro radio network of 10 stations across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – each city featuring a KIIS and Triple M brand – and an aim to increase its regional radio footprint from 47 to 88 stations.

10. Redundancies hit CHEP Network following Telstra account loss

After losing the Telstra creative account in October, CHEP Network made up to 40 staff redundant, Mumbrella revealed.

Telstra announced a major shake-up to its agency roster, dropping The Monkeys, CHEP and DDB, in favour for a bespoke agency called +61 – a collaboration between OMD, TBWA and Bear Meets Eagle on Fire.

Mumbrella understood 60% of the agency’s employees working on the Telstra brand were moved internally to other clients and offerings.

9. Coles replaces CMO role; appoints first chief customer officer

Coles appointed its first chief customer officer in May, filling the role left vacant by Lisa Ronson last year, Mumbrella revealed.

Amanda McVay, who came from the US after a global search, joined with more than two decades of experience in the retail category. She reports to CEO Leah Weckert, who was also appointed this year.

Coles CCO Amanda McVay

8. 2023 Mumbrella Awards shortlist unveiled, CHEP Network and Thinkerbell secure most nominations

CHEP Network and Thinkerbell racked up this most nominations at this year’s Mumbrella Awards.

In May, the shortlist was revealed with other nominees including Special, Howatson+Company, Zitcha, Wavemaker, Cartology and more.

7. Matildas set ratings records, brands set to reap rewards

The gripping Women’s World Cup match between Australia and France brought in a massive viewership, beating the 2023 free-to-air record the Matildas set the previous week.

The match aired to 2.507 million metro viewers on Saturday evening according to OzTAM, which would have set the 2023 record had it not been for what followed. The penalty shoot-out between the two teams, partially blended into the Seven News slot that followed, brought in 3.045 million viewers.

6. Hard Solo alcohol to be renamed after breaching marketing code

Last month, Carlton & United Breweries’ Hard Solo alcoholic beverage was renamed after the ABAC Adjudication Panel determined that the packaging of the drink had breached ABAC’s responsible alcohol marketing code.

It came after “multiple public complaints” that the brand name and design of the can “strongly appeals to minors”.

“As we comply with the ABAC decision and the Hard Solo brand exits the market, we’d like to assure the many Australian adults who have loved Hard Solo that the taste won’t change when the name changes to Hard Rated,” a CUB spokesperson said in a statement. “Consistent with ABAC rules, CUB will ensure the last Hard Solo can packaging will exit our supply network by no later than 9 February 2024 (s4.17. of the ABAC Code).

5. Here’s how much marketers are getting paid

In September, specialist marketing recruitment agency iknowho dropped marketing salary figures according to their data.

Full-time marketing coordinators in Australia are being paid a salary of up to $75,000 – but if they add ‘digital’ to the job title, that rate jumps up to $90,000.

According to an annual report the average CMO is taking more than $260k in annual salary (all salary figures exclude superannuation).

Additionally, the report found that the average tenure of a marketer is 1.4 years, but senior candidates tend to stay longer with one company.

4. Media agency grad salaries in question after prominent group’s low pay revealed

Mumbrella revealed that holding company Omnicom Media Group (OMG) was paying its graduates a salary that is only marginally more than minimum wage and well below the industry average.

It offers a graduate salary of $46,875, which equates to $901.44 a week, or $23.72 on an hourly rate. That figure is said to be inclusive of superannuation. An internal salary guide from the Media Federation of Australia (MFA), seen by Mumbrella, reported the median amount paid to graduates is $57,300 per year.

When approached by Mumbrella with the suggested graduate salary, OMG would not confirm the figures or if it operated on its own award agreement.

3. Winners of the 2023 Mumbrella Awards revealed

The Mumbrella Awards were a huge success in 2023, with Howatson+Company cementing itself as the leading agency in Australia. It took home Creative, Independent and Emerging Agency of the Year, as well as the Best Use of Retail Media award.

Match & Wood was named Media Agency of the Year, while Eleven took home PR Agency of the Year.

Other winning agencies included CHEP Network, M&C Saatchi Group, VMLY&R, ntegrity and VaynerMedia.

2. Victorian Government to cease newspaper advertising within weeks

In June, Mumbrella reported that the Victorian Government will cease basically all metropolitan print newspaper advertising from July, in a multi-million-dollar blow to Nine Publishing and News Corp Australia.

From 1 July, metropolitan newspaper ads will not be placed by the government unless required by law, however television and digital advertising “will remain an important part of the government’s advertising agenda”, a government spokesperson said.

Then Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the dramatic shift in its paid media strategy, citing a return to pre-pandemic levels of spend and a need to deliver taxpayers better bang for buck.

1. Sean Cummins: ‘I’m tired of people saying that working from home is better… it’s not’

Topping off the list, May saw a huge work from home debate, sparked by a LinkedIn post by cummins&partners’ founder Sean Cummins.

He argued industry leaders are scared to voice support of returning to the office post-Covid, and said it is unfortunate that the topic has become a one-sided conversation.

Cummins declared to Mumbrella: “My personal point of view is, I’m tired of the dogma. I’m tired of people saying that working from home is better and acting as though it’s incontrovertibly true. It is not. My whole point is separate work from home. It’s a beautiful way of doing it.”

cummins&partners founder Sean Cummins


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