BOTW: Stan for sale?; Trouble at Kiis; Tabloid genius; Does the ABC really have Australia's best marketing team?; Sydney's cluttered streets
Welcome to Unmade, written this morning at drizzly Sisters Beach, Tasmania.
I’m feeling even happier than usual to be home. During yesterday afternoon’s flight across from Melbourne our pilot informed us that a storm meant our tiny Dash 8 would likely divert to Devonport. That would have left us the wrong side of the River Cam, where floodwaters yesterday reduced the main Bass Highway to one lane across the bridge and delays of up to three hours.
It felt like an episode of Seven’s Deal or No Deal as we descended through 15 minutes of whiteout, waiting to see which city we would arrive in. When the suitcase opened on final approach, the storm had moved on and we were indeed at Burnie-Wynyard Airport.
And, speaking of Seven, I learned a small piece of Qantas trivia during the journey. Sunrise presenter David Koch is a Chairman’s Lounge member. Back at Sydney Airport, I spotted Kochie leading colleague Natalie Barr through the secret door to the most exclusive club in Australia, as they prepared to fly to Perth for this weekend’s Telethon.
My bumpy trip back to Tassie, wasn’t the only reminder this week that life in the Boomtown regions isn’t the same. On Wednesday came the news that Nine would be ceasing printing of the Australian Financial Review and The Age in Tasmania, which would have left the state as the first in the country without a hard copy edition of the AFR. Effectively, it would have left News Corp’s The Australian as the last one standing as a national daily print product.
Happily, events moved fast as it transpired that ACM, who print the papers for Nine in Tassie, had not expected to have its bluff called over the price rise. On Thursday, came the news that AFR will remain a national print product after all.
Anyway, happy Reptile Awareness Day. I lack the spare cognitive capacity to curate my own playlist, so today’s writing soundtrack is ABC Classic.
Today: Is Nine about to sell Stan? Does the ABC have the country’s best marketing team? K&J’s deteriorating relationship with ARN; Big changes at Nova; Did QMS go too big in Sydney?; Breaking the rules on TV gambling ads; tabloid genius with a lettuce
Unmade’s paying members get two complimentary tickets to our agenda-setting Marketing in 2023 event promoted in the ad above. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find the discount code you need to access it. Otherwise, tickets are $69 each.
It was one of those weeks where so much was happening in the media and marketing world, I have to leave half of it out. So, today’s BOTW will be a somewhat rapid fire edition of things worth talking about.
Snap - yikes!
Yesterday’s bad results from Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc are a scary signal for the global advertising market.
Overnight, the company’s share price fell by 29%, and it’s now down by 90% for the last 12 months.
Snap has been a bellwether for the global social media platforms because it’s among the first to report in each of the US’s quarterly results seasons.
Snap told the market that advertisers are cutting back on marketing budgets because of rising inflation. If that proves to be the main reason for the Snap slowdown - and not a simple shift to other more fashionable platforms (I’m thinking of TikTok) - then we can stop talking about the coming advertising recession and face that fact that it’s arrived. We’ll know a lot more within the next week as other results come through.
ABC - hmmm
I’ve been nagging the ABC to add me to its PR mailing list for a while now, so I feel somewhat churlish to turn my nose up at the first press release they’ve sent me.
The organisation’s 50-strong ABC Audiences team was named marketing team of the year at this week’s Australian Marketing Institute Awards. This is the citation from the AMI’s awards booklet:
I’m sure they’re a hard working, insightful, inclusive, linguistically diverse team, as the judges say. What seems to be missing from the blurb is evidence of results. As I’ve written about previously, there’s no time when there has been more concern about the ABC losing its TV and radio audiences, particularly at the younger end.
Can an audience team which is losing its audience be marketing team of the year? It would seem so.
Stan for sale?
The Australian’s Data Room column posted an intriguing tidbit on Thursday night.
Nine is considering selling a stake in its streaming Stan, according to the report.
There might be a couple of reasons.
One would be to get an alliance with a strategic partner owning one of the few US studios that don’t already have a streaming play in this market. That was being considered back in 2019.
Another would be to unlock hidden value for shareholders not currently reflected in the share price. That was the reason Fairfax Media span off Domain back in 2017.
If the report is accurate (and that’s not certain - a lot of balloons get floated in Data Room which burst before they reach the stratosphere) then Nine has missed the top of the market. Valuations of streaming companies have faded, as competition has grown and Stan’s growth in subscriber numbers has stalled.
Nonetheless, CEO Mike Sneesby needs a new narrative for the investment market before the company’s half year update in February when he’ll be forced to share the falling Stan numbers.
That could be either a deal, or a launch of an ad-supported tier for Stan to follow that of Netflix, Binge and, soon enough, Paramount Plus.
Trouble at Kiis
It’s starting to look like history is repeating itself on the Kyle & Jackie O Show.
A decade back, Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson had the number one show at Southern Cross Austereo’s 2Day FM but started to become disgruntled with the management and eventually walked. With a series of controversies already on the scorecard, the company didn’t fight too hard to keep them in what turned out to be one of the worst commercial mistakes in Australian radio history.
Instead they crossed town and helped ARN launch Kiis FM in 2014, and immediately became the top FM breakfast show.
The timing was good for ARN. Sandilands calmed down and got into fewer controversies. It’s been a good decent year run for the company.
But a pattern seems to be emerging. Sandilands and Henderson attacked management on air again this week, the second time in a fortnight.
Last time the trouble occurred because the on-air censor failed to dump a segment in which Sandilands railed - in defamatory and unfair fashion - against the company’s previous PR agency. Yesterday it was because a conversation with broadcaster Alan Jones was dumped. We don’t know what was said, but we do know that the duo walked out on the end of the show after, they claimed, consulting their lawyer.
I suspect they’ll work it through for now - both sides make millions from the deal which has two more years to run. It could be a long and painful couple of years. At the moment the relationship seems to be spiralling downwards. If representatives from Nova and SCA (or even Sirius XM) haven’t checked in with Sandilands’ management this week, then they’re not doing their jobs properly.
All change at Nova
Still on the subject of radio, we’re about to enter a year of new lineups for 2023. Often we enter a new broadcasting year with mostly stable shows in the big markets, while occasionally there’s a big bang year as a single departure creates a domino effect. So 2023 is starting to look like one of those years.
Yesterday, Nova unexpectedly revealed that its Melbourne breakfast show featuring Chrissie Swan, Sam Pang and Jonathan Brown is coming to an end after seven years. It looks like only Swan is staying with the network, possibly joining Sydney’s Fitzy & Wippa breakfast show, or maybe as the replacement for Kate Richie in drive, with Joel Creasey and Tim Blackwell.
One possible replacement for Nova in Melbourne breakfast would be to promote its Adelaide breakfast duo (and ex Triple J breakfast hosts) Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton, which would in turn create a hole in SA.
Then there’s the question of whether Carrie Bickmore will take on a bigger radio role now she’s leaving Ten’s The Project. Her current home is with SCA’s Hit Network, co-hosting drivetime with Tommy Little.
Plenty more to come.
QMS, too much
I was not entirely surprised to read in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that the rollout of QMS’s new street signage network has been paused.
I’m all for high impact advertising, but the so-called “communications pylons” are ugly, and unlike other forms of street furniture add little value. In places they interrupt pedestrians’ use of the pavement.
QMS needs high impact positioning if it’s to have any hope of getting back the $450m it’s guaranteeing City of Sydney. So far, QMS has made Sydney CBD a slightly uglier, less pedestrian-friendly place.
Tabloid newspapers at their cleverest capture the public mood, and then their imagination.
Often it was with a brutal front page. This month, the UK’s downmarket tabloid The Daily Star created a wonderful encapsulation of the final days of Liz Truss’s short term as British prime minister.
After The Economist memorably pointed out that Truss had been in control for the shelf life of a lettuce, the Star turned it in to a full blown metaphor, live streaming a gradually wilting lettuce next to a portrait of Truss.
I joined the stream myself on a few occasions, There were always more than 400 fellow viewers.
The lettuce won. And so did The Star. Absolute to-the-point tabloid genius.
Speaking of a flogging with a wilting lettuce leaf, the Australian Communications and Media Authority did some media regulating this week.
Both Nine and Seven breached regulations in showing betting promotions during sporting events. Seven did it 49 times during its Olympics coverage last July and August. Nine did it during last year’s NRL grand final.
Yes, it has taken the ACMA more than a year to conclude both of those open-and-shut investigations.
And the consequence for the broadcasters? Enforceable undertakings not to do it again. So no actual consequences.
Every time broadcast regulation breaches come up and then go away effectively unpunished, the ACMA informs the world that next time, the consequences could be dire. Yet, in the history of television and radio, those dire consequences have never occurred.
Imagine if the same thing happened in everyday Australian business. It would be like ruling a casino was unfit to hold a licence, then allowing it to stay open anyway. That would never happen of course.
The Unmade Index dips again
The Unmade Index dropped for a second day in a row, falling by 1.11% yesterday.
Yesterday’s 5.7% fall for Pureprofile may have been the biggest percentage drop within the index, but it came after a 35% rise on Thursday, thanks to an excellent set of quarterly results.
Time to let you go about your Saturday.
In the unlikely event you want to hear more media chat from me, I’ll be popping into my local station Coast FM from 11am eastern. You can stream it here.
Have a great weekend.