The year that was: Mumbrella’s 50 most-read content pieces of 2023

Our readers have spoken. Here’s a rundown of the top 50 overall most-read stories of the year on Mumbrella. 

News, features, opinions, podcast commentaries and Dr Mumbos. Our readers loved it all.

50. Matildas break 2023 free-to-air ratings record

The Matildas exhilarating Women’s World Cup match against Denmark smashed the free-to-air ratings record for the year, with 2.294 million metro viewers on Seven. According to the total TV results on VOZ, the game aired to 3.633 million viewers across broadcast and BVOD.

The metro record for the year was previously 1.981 million, set by Nine’s State of Origin Game I in June.

That was until the Matildas’ later games smashed records again, and again (see #36 and #7 on this list).

49. Roy Morgan, where are you? The disappearance of the industry influencer – Alice Raitt

Carat strategy director Alice Raitt laments the loss of elusive industry meme maker Roy Morgan, last seen on Facebook in September 2022.

Roy Morgan

48. ‘Never had a chance’: The brutal truth why the ‘Yes’ campaign failed – Howard Parry-Husbands

In another take of the Yes camp’s failure to cut through to the majority, Pollinate CEO Howard Parry-Husbands suggested that it all came down to the absence of a single, clear message.

“It was all heat and no light.”

47. 3AW terminates afternoon host Dee Dee Dunleavy

In June, Nine Radio’s Melbourne station 3AW has dropped its afternoons presenter Dee Dee Dunleavy, terminating her on-air role immediately.

In a statement, the station said: “3AW has agreed to an early conclusion for Dee Dee Dunleavy’s on-air role, after informing the broadcaster her contract would not be renewed at the end of the year.”

The announcement came on the eve of the third GfK metro radio survey results of the year. In the survey two results from April, Dunleavy’s afternoon spot was the only slot where 3AW didn’t hold the most share.

46. Ben Roberts-Smith steps down as GM of Seven Queensland

General manager of Seven Queensland, Ben Roberts-Smith, departed the business in June, after his defamation case against The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra, and journalists Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters, was dismissed in Federal Court.

A Seven spokesperson confirmed the news to Mumbrella that Roberts-Smith had tended his resignation and that it had been accepted but said the business would not be providing any further comment.

Roberts-Smith was on extended leave throughout the case.

45. Jason Hodges dropped from Better Homes and Gardens after 15 years – An article from 2019?

For some reason, this was one of the top 50 most consumed articles of 2023. Strange.

44. 2023 Mumbrella CommsCon Awards: Ogilvy, We Are Different, Mango Comms and more win big

Ogilvy PR won PR Agency of the Year, while collaborative work between Eleven, FleishmanHillard and TBWA awarded the agencies two wins and one highly commended at the 2023 Mumbrella CommsCon Awards.

The trio took home Best Non-Traditional Business Opportunity for work for mycar, and Pro Bono Campaign of the Year award for ‘Classify Consent’ for Consent Labs. The agencies received highly commended in the PR-led Content Creation category for the same Consent Labs work. Eleven and TBWA also won Best Influencer Strategy.

Other winning agencies included Herd MSL, Hireup, Pure Public Relations and Seven Communications.

43. ‘Optus didn’t just fail to control the narrative, they ignored it completely’: The outage aftermath

When Optus’ outage happened last month, it took the telecommunications giant half a day to acknowledge, and when they did, then CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin was curt and light on details. The government then launched a federal investigation into the matter.

Mumbrella spoke to crisis PR experts on how Optus could have better handled the catastrophe.

Optus has had a rough year

42. ‘We apologise profusely’: Optus confirms network has been ‘restored’

Two Optus stories in a row!

Optus issued a statement to Mumbrella the day of the outage last month, confirming that the network was restored after it left 10 million Australian customers without the ability to make calls or use the internet.

“We apologise profusely,” the statement read. “Our network has been restored and customers should be back online.”

41. Over 65,000 calls have been made to help find a missing Home & Away character

Earlier this month, a marketing campaign that aims to emulate the “true-to-life trauma and action” of a real missing person search, and apply it to a Home and Away character, was a massive success for the long-running show.

The ‘Bring Eden Home’ campaign built off the Home and Away season cliffhanger, in which a character was knocked out cold and bundled into a boot, after stumbling across criminals digging a forest grave –  your typical frothy soap opera fare.

Fans dialled the number 28,244 times over the first 24-hour period, with 65,695 phone calls logged in just six days.

40. ‘It’s about accountability’: Anti-racism campaigner takes Krispy Kreme ad to Human Rights Commission

Anti-racism campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan made an official complaint against Krispy Kreme ANZ to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), following a campaign that featured a highly-offensive racial slur in August (that story is #17 on this list).

The AHRC complaint, seen by Mumbrella, cited “racially offensive material” allegedly targeting Dr Hagan “on the internet, including eforums, blogs, social networking sites and video sharing sites”.

“It was because of the ad and subsequent publicity on Krispy Kreme that I started receiving hate mail,” he wrote.

39. Mumbrella Publish Awards 2023: Man of Many, Broadsheet, Guardian Aus and more win big

Man of Many took home three awards at the 2023 Mumbrella Publish Awards, while Broadsheet Media was named Publishing Company of the Year, and The Local Project named Publication of the Year.

Broadsheet Media was also highly commended in the Branded Content Studio and Brand of the Year categories. Guardian Australia‘s Ben Roberts-Smith v The Media won Best Podcast (Single Episode), and Nova Entertainment‘s Dear Clementine series won Best Podcast (Series).

Other winners included Coles Magazine by Medium Rare Content Agency, Schwartz Media’s Karen Middleton and Urban List.

38. Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale enter the property market in Domain’s new campaign

Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale were looking to get the insider scoop on the property market, in a series of amusing adverts for Domain.

In partnership with Howatson+Company, the ‘know what we know’ campaign showed the hapless duo trying to get special information during an obsessive property search. Each extreme mission ends with the discovery of Domain’s new search experience.

37. What it’s like to manage Joe Aston – Sean Aylmer

Following Joe Aston’s shock exit from Nine Entertainment masthead the Australian Financial Review, former Fairfax editorial director Sean Ayler shared his experiencing managing the divisive journalist.

36. Matildas smash TV ratings records

The Matildas’ agonising 3-1 loss to England in the Women’s World Cup semi-final drew the largest 5 City Metro audience seen in at least two decades, with just shy of 4.5 million people tuning to the game on Seven across the five capitals. 1.4 million viewers watched in Sydney alone, with 1.38 million in Melbourne catching the action.

Overall, the game reached an unprecedented 11.15 million Australians, drawing an average national audience of 7.13 million, across Seven and 7plus: 6.17 million viewers on Seven, and another 957,000 viewers on 7plus. The match was the most-watched TV show since OzTAM started its audience measurement system in 2001.

It has to be noted that OzTAM doesn’t capture out-of-home viewing figures, at pubs, clubs, and the numerous live sites across the country – not to mention the 75,000 Aussies in the stadium.

35. Former CHEP boss Justin Hind opens Reunion agency with Dominique Hind and Stephen Knowles

Veteran creative and former CHEP Network boss Justin Hind has ended months of speculation by finally detailing his next move in June. Three months after abruptly exiting the Clemenger Group agency, Hind unveiled his new venture, Reunion – what he calls a “data-led, audience-first” independent agency.

Reunion’s offering is described as one connecting “strategy, creative, tech, customer experience, performance and media into a single unified approach and proposition”.

Since launching, the agency has hired Meta’s Ollie Beeston as partner – creative, and today announced a new business win in Rest Super.

(L-R): Reunion’s Stephen Knowles, Dominique Hind, Justin Hind

34. Two in, dozens out as change sweeps through Dentsu

Dentsu announced two major hires as the group’s restructure continued, with dozens of other roles reportedly affected by the ongoing changes.

Ben Coulson joined from HERO as chief creative officer ANZ, after the departure of Mandie van der Merwe and Avish Gordhan, while DDB’s Katie Firth was hired to head up Melbourne operations as local managing director.

Mumbrella understood more than three dozen roles across the group were impacted by the redundancies and job changes, with at least one former Dentsu Creative staff member seeking a new role via LinkedIn.

33. The awkward snub of climate change by Ampol-sponsored Walkley Awards – Belinda Noble

A decision by the Walkley Foundation concerning its prestigious annual awards has left it with an awkward legacy, former journalist and Comms Declare founder Belinda Noble wrote.

32. What media CEOs get paid

Listed media companies revealed executives’ remuneration details in their October annual reports, as the annual general meeting season approached. Nine Entertainment’s boss Mike Sneesby was the top-paid media executive in the 2023 financial year, earning $3.4 million in total pay, with close to half a million in a cash bonus. That was still less than his package in FY22.

Seven West Media’s chief executive James Warburton came in second on the media pay rank with a $2.8 million package, but this was following a $4.6 million paycheck the previous year.

31. TV networks say ‘nup’ to the Melbourne Cup – soon you might, too – Nathan Jolly

In an instalment of the Weekend Mumbo, Mumbrella’s Nathan Jolly took a look at the Melbourne Cup broadcast rights debacle, considering whether network’s reluctance to sign on spelled the demise of the horse racing industry’s biggest event of the year.

30. Dr Mumbo: Karl’s cocaine gag falls flat and other awkward Logies moments

Karl Stefanovic is no stranger to causing uncomfortable moments at television’s night of nights, but his effort at the TV WEEK Logie Awards was in a class of its own, when he tried his hand at some unscripted comedy.

“I did want to just check something,” he said, smirking. “I’m pretty sure I heard Kochie say before that he loves Bumps.” After an extended pause, Stefanovic continued: “Bump’s third season. Anyway, that’s the headline tomorrow morning.”

The joke, which Dr Mumbo understands was a reference to key bumps of cocaine, fell flat and the ballroom was largely silent as a camera cut to a clearly confused Koch. Dr Mumbo was less than impressed.

29. David ‘Kochie’ Koch quits Sunrise after two decades

In May, David ‘Kochie’ Koch announced his departure from  Seven’s breakfast program Sunrise after 21 years in the job. As the longest-serving breakfast television host in Australian history, he had a pretty impressive run.

Matt Shirvington replaced him the following month, while Kochie joined Compare the Market as its economic director.

Aside from being a popular new figurehead for a business traditionally fronted by meerkats, Kochie’s remit as economic director is to “champion comparison as the way to make better financial decisions and beat the cost of living crisis.”

28. Russell Coight accidentally promotes Mitsubishi’s EV in new campaign

As a man who’s had his fair share of mishaps while adventuring around Australia, Russell Coight knows that the unforgiving outback is no place for a fancy new electric vehicle like Mitsubishi’s shiny Outlander Plug-in Hybrid EV.

But, a creative collaboration between Richards Rose and Working Dog Productions (who make some of the best comedy to come out of Australia) sees him accidentally promote the vehicle, as he tests it through terrain and comes out the other side in one piece.

“We tip our Akubras to the team at Mitsubishi Motors for allowing us to take their EV out of the city and on this all-Aussie adventure,” Adam Rose, executive creative director at Richards Rose, said.

Coight in the campaign

27. Former AFL player Ben Cousins to read morning sports news for Seven Perth

In a controversial move, Seven Perth appointed decorated but troubled former AFL player Ben Cousins for its morning sports news.

The role,, which he started in June, expanded on Cousins’ existing deal with the network where he already features in a weekly segment on 7News breaking down the week’s play. He will now present for Perth’s morning news bulletin three days a week.

26. Optus CEO resigns effective immediately

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, CEO of Optus, resigned effective immediately on November 20, just three days after deflecting questions about her position in a Senate committee hearing. Her departure came after Optus’ disaster outage earlier in the month, that left 10 million customers without the ability to make phone calls or access the internet.

25. Job cuts at key Clemenger Group agencies

Clemenger Group’s CHEP Network and Clemenger BBDO named a number of roles redundant in May, somewhere in the double-digits across the two agencies.

Mumbrella understood the changes to staffing were largely owed to restructuring and a shift in requirements, a trend that has seen several other creative agencies make cuts over the course of the year.

24. Edelman makes senior executive redundant as part of global directive

Staff at Edelman Australia were reeling after a senior executive was unexpectedly one of two locals to be made redundant as part of worldwide downsizing. Executive vice president, head of corporate APAC, Susan Redden Makatoa was among the approximate 240 global staff made redundant, as well as Edelman Australia’s financial director.

She has since begun working at stakeholder engagement and ESG consulting firm Morrow Sodali as managing director.

23. Who scored the most goals? Don’t believe the internet

In a keynote presentation at the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit, Gary Steele, chief creative officer of DDB Aotearoa, and Rebecca Sowden, founder and founding partner of Team Heroine and Correct The Internet, told the crowd that heightening the visibility of women’s sports needs to start with getting the facts straight online.

“We want to stop the narrative that women’s sports are not as good, as fast or as strong as men’s sports. But the search engine results are just contributing to that negative narrative,” Sowden told the crowd.

The duo were leading a campaign from earlier this year to change the searchable facts, with the aim to give female sports players the attention they deserve for their achievements.

Steele and Sowden speaking at the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit 2023

22. James Warburton stepping down as Seven CEO

Just last week, Seven West Media’s CEO and managing director, James Warburton, announced he will be stepping down at the end of FY24.

Current chief financial officer Jeff Howard has been appointed as the incoming managing director and chief executive officer. The transition will be effective on or before 30 June 2024.

21. What are you doing to get people back to your offices? – Adam Ferrier

In a follow up to his 2022 call to return to the office, Thinkerbell’s Adam Ferrier returned to the topic, this time challenging businesses to do more to entice talent back to the daily commute.

“So, now is the time to ask your employer… what have they done to encourage you to come in?” he wrote.

20. ‘I will never forget what Sonia Kruger said about Muslims’ – Adam Rida

Following controversial TV personality Sonia Kruger’s Gold Logie win in August, corporate comms professional Adam Rida reflected on how major networks continue to give Australian stars a free pass when it comes to racism and bigotry.

19. Dr Mumbo: The most ridiculous agency names in adland

Dr Mumbo took a look at some of the names in agencyland, some of which are ridiculous. Enough is enough. Dr Mumbo has played your games, and used your naming conventions, even when it means putting a small letter at the start of the sentence – which breaks the very first rule you learn about sentence structure.

Dr Mumbo encouraged readers to enjoy the list, and try not to take it too seriously.

18. Can we please end the WFH debate? – Lara Brownlow

Proving that the work from home (WFH) conversation is still far from over, LinkedIn’s APAC head of channel sales Lara Brownlow made a plea to Australia marketing and media industry to ditch the ‘for or against’ narrative of work from home.

She underlined that there are benefits to both WFH and working from the office, arguing that it is not a one size fits all issue.

17. Krispy Kreme ANZ apologises after offensive campaign spot

Krispy Kreme ANZ was forced to apologise following concerns a campaign featured a highly offensive racial slur.

The campaign featured four spots that celebrate sports events, birthday parties, life milestones and routine family catch-ups, with doughnuts replacing the letter ‘o’ in words like footy and movie. However, one spot shows doughnuts replacing the ‘o’ in congrats, briefly becoming ‘coongrats’ and then ‘cooongrats’.

Krispy Kreme apologised for the gaffe

16. 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.”

15. 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.

14. 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.

13. 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.

12. 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.

ARN Media made a bid to buy rival SCA

11. 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.

10. 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.

9. 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.

8. ‘Sponsors won’t get behind it:’ Why the Melbourne Cup will be ‘gone within a decade’

In this Mumbrellacast commentary piece, the team looked at this year’s Melbourne Cup and discuss why the race that stops the nation could soon be scratched altogether.

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 (see #50 on this list).

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.

That was until it was again beaten (see #36 on this list).

The Matildas dominated TV viewership this year

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.

The Victorian Government stopped advertising in metropolitan newspapers

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

Topping off the overall 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.”


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