Year In Review: September – Fake viral factory owns up; Rusciano’s meltdown; Vale Michael Ball

2016 was another year of major change and transformation in the media and marketing world. Mumbrella provides a month-by-month recap of the most read and biggest stories that affected the industry.

September began with the world entranced by a viral video of a hawk dumping a snake on an unsuspecting family picnic. The terrors of Australian Fauna writ large. But it soon emerged that production shop The Woolshed Company was behind the hawk stunt to promote AFL team Hawthorne (aka The Hawks).

One of the the advertising industry’s most famous names, controversial Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts, bowed out ignominiously after being slammed for claiming the debate about women in advertising was “over” and they were happier in non-executive roles.

Just days after his comments went viral he brought forward his retirement, but not before attacking the “cold and timid souls” who attacked him.

kevin roberts head shot

Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts – in hot water

Roberts was not the only person to exit their job in September after media personality and News Corp columnist Emma Rusciano quit her column after a meltdown triggered by unkind comments online. Her retreat from the spotlight came in the wake of The Big Music Show quizmaster  Darren McMullan saying her behaviour on set had lengthened filming, dubbing her a “nightmare”. Rusciano said she struggled to cope with the backlash.

arnotts-pizza-shapes-boxNot everyone was retreating, though, or at least they were claiming they weren’t. After announcing it was revamping the taste of its popular Shapes range, Arnott’s suddenly announced it was re-introducing some of the original flavours again after a public outcry over its decision.


Optus finally launched its streaming coverage of the English Premier League,  but fans were quick to slam the service as ‘sub-standard’, saying lag and stability were rendering their favourite sport unwatchable.

Fricke: We haven't hit targets

Fricke: “We haven’t hit targets”

The instability at Bauer’s Park Street bunker in Sydney continued after Bauer Xcel’s boss slashed a number of senior roles. The move came with the admission by Excel managing director, Christian Fricke, the division was failing to meet key targets and the business needed to “make sure the set-up and costs fit to the revenue opportunities”.

ARM newspapers
Elsewhere job losses were also on the cards with predictions the News Corp acquisition of APN News & Media’s Australian Regional Media could cost cost 300 jobs. The deal would later be given the green light by the ACCC.

September saw the end of 2UE’s long running talk-back format, with Macquarie Radio relaunching the station as lifestyle and native content broadcaster, drafting in celebrities including Seven’s David Koch to help drive the station.

The revised format, which saw a number of longstanding 2UE stars dumped in favour of new shows which would act as a counterpoint to content broadcast in sister station 2GB, resulted in an angry reaction from many listeners. Under the new format advertisers are able to buy entire shows.

Thursday's Daily Telegraph splash

Thursday’s Daily Telegraph splash

A bid to find “The new breed of bludger” by The Daily Telegraph went pear-shaped when two girls vox-popped by the tabloid at a Centrelink revealed they had made the whole story up.

The story was splashed across the front page as the paper went after a generation “young, able and unwilling  to work”. Undeterred by the deception the paper quickly came back for a second bite the following day with an interview with the father of one of the girls saying she was “a silly little teenager” who actually had a job.

The ongoing debate about transparency in agencies returned again after Japanese giant Dentsu detailed rorts of more than 100 clients in Japan, including one of its biggest: Toyota. The digital subterfuge amounted to more than $3m and had been ongoing since 2012, covering more than 600 transactions.

triplem-classic-rockTriple M uncorked a bottle of outrage after Southern Cross Austereo announced it was closing its classic rock stream. The broadcaster bizarrely dubbed the station “a victim of its own success”. Triple M was touted as the most listened to “non-retail aligned” DAB channel in the country, but SCA said the terrestrial station would be playing more classic rock. Listeners were far from impressed, slamming SCA for the decision with many vowing to abandon Triple M altogether.

michael-ball-statueThe advertising industry lost one of its the few true legends with the passing of Michael Ball, once the heir apparent to David Ogilvy. An original member of the Mad Men club, Ball was possibly Australia’s most successful advertising export, helping build Ogilvy as an international force before setting up Australia’s own international powerhouse in The Ball Partnership


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