BOTW: We're only humAIn; A PR who gets adland; Now Catalano focuses on auto
Welcome to Best of the Week, written on a mild day at beautiful Sisters Beach, Tasmania. They cancelled our extreme heat warning and instead we got 20 degrees.
Happy International Sword Swallowers Day.
Today’s writing soundtrack: Hot Fuss - The Killers.
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Announcing humAIn - human creativity x AI
Before I get into the week’s business, a piece of housekeeping: I’m excited to reveal Unmade’s next event.
As we grow beyond an email newsletter and find our place in a crowded trade press market, what we will not be doing is copycat events. So our aim is to focus on emerging communities within the industry and to help them develop.
That’s why I’m so pleased with the support we had for this coming week’s RE:Made - Retail Media Unmade. We’re expecting more than 200 people next week, which is an amazing result for the first time the retail media community comes together in Australia. It’s not too late to buy a ticket, by the way.
But now we’re looking to the next thing, and we’ve chosen what excited us most: the developing world of AI, and more specifically how it will change the way business is done in the media and marketing world.
The arrival of ChatGPT is what put the AI discussion into the mainstream. We explored some of those possibilities on Unmade at the start of the year. Across every type of agency and every marketing function, the least thoughtful and most repetitive work will move from humans to AI. That also means procurement people will see opportunities to remove costs. While that’s both an opportunity and a threat for the marketing world, humAIn’s focus will be on the opportunity.
That disruption was already coming before ChatGPT - that’s simply the moment when most of the world noticed. The lightbulb came on for me six years ago on a flight to Advertising Week in New York to chair a panel on the topic. I vividly recollect reading media agency PHD’s book Merge on that flight and feeling mindblown.
At the time the predictions seemed a little improbable. I gently teased one of the co-authors of Merge, PHD’s global CMO Chris Stephenson, about the predicted timeline when I caught up with him in London last year. I thought things were running late. But actually, things are moving fast.
Also included on the panel that day was Microsoft’s evangelist Christi Olson who was there to talk about the company’s digital assistant Cortana (little did we know back then about Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI). And Publicis Groupe’s Chip Register was there to talk about the company’s Marcel AI project which was just a concept at that stage but is now an AI platform connecting the group’s 80,000 staff.
The conversation felt like incomplete glimpses of a future, which is finally arriving.
So that’s why our next event, early in July, will be humAIn - human creativity x AI. We’ve chosen the name carefully. AI will be a disruptive, revolutionary tool that will have more effect on our industry than almost any other. But it will still be a tool in the hand of clever humans.
Speaking of clever humans, I’m delighted that humAIn will be curated by Cat McGinn who is also the brains behind next week’s RE:Made program. Cat has a rare talent for connecting to an industry community and synthesising their thoughts into a program useful for everyone.
Cat will be looking to devise a program which sees everybody leave with a playbook in mind for how to make the most of the AI wave in their own jobs.
So just like RE:Made, we’re starting by asking the community what they want from the first local event of its type. When you go to the humAIn site, you’ll find just one page - an invitation to be involved. That might be as a speaker, to tell Cat what we should be thinking about, to express interest in sponsoring, or simply to be first to know when tickets go on sale.
I hope you enjoy the irony that you will need to tick a box to confirm that you are not a robot in order to submit the form. If you are a robot, I’m sure you can figure out a workaround.
The people move of the week came from adland.
James Wright is returning to Australia as CEO of Havas Creative Network, while Gayle While will move across from Dentsu to become CEO of Host/Havas.
Both moves say something about the direction of the industry.
We’ll start with Wright. This move will see Wright sit across both PR and creative, including Host/Havas, Red Havas and One Green Bean. It’s unusual for a PR person to be in charge of a group like this. I’m sure I’m missing some, but the only other person I can think of is former STW (or WPP Australia as it’s now known) chief operating officer Chris Savage.
Wright first arrived in Australia back in 2011 to head up The Red Agency, which at the time was in the doldrums and very much in the shadow of its creative sibling Euro RSCG, which later rebranded as Havas.
It was an opportune moment for Wright to come in, shortly after the arrival of Steve Coll as executive creative director at Euro RSCG.
Wright proved to be a PR who understood advertising creativity, while Coll was that rarests of ECDs, one who understood how to make earned media a central part of the campaign.
Together they woke up the local Havas operation. Wright stayed with the family and moved into global PR roles for the Havas group, while Coll went on to Droga5, the With Collective and for the last four years Facebook.
Gayle While’s appointment says something too. She was the last CEO of Clemenger Melbourne before the agency went off the boil. And most recently she’s been with Dentsu, since August 2021. That’s a short time to stay. I wonder what it says about Dentsu that While was already open to a move.
Ten feels the pain
Still with people moves, Ten’s parent company Paramount announced the departure of its national sales director Lisa Squillace this week, along with a shakeup of the sales structure.
The ratings squeeze saw Ten’s share of the metro advertising market drop to only just over 20% for the second half of last year. That squeeze got worse in January thanks to the tennis on Nine and cricket on Seven. I’m told Ten’s metro revenue share in January was just 12%.
Sales teams can’t be blamed when the revenue share matches the ratings, but nonetheless savings eventually need to be made, even for a network with the protection of a global parent company like Paramount.
The business case for Paramount continuing support Ten remains, thanks to the efficiencies and revenues from use of the Paramount US output. So the network is safer than it otherwise would be. But a declining share of a declining market is not a fun place to be.
Catalano’s inexorable march into classifieds
Inch by inch, Australian Community Media proprietor Antony Catalano is creeping up on the existing classifieds players.
The man who disrupted Fairfax’s property dominance in Melbourne by launching The Weekly Review back in 2010 before getting bought out and leading the float of Domain, is moving in the slow and steady way that private ownership allows.
Last August, Catalano and business partner Alex Waislitz officially launched View Media Group with an investment from Seven West Media. The first vertical is real estate, including Real Estate View.
This week came news that ACM is cutting another one of its ties with Nine, which sold the duo ACM in the first place. Nine’s Drive branding and content will disappear from the ACM mastheads and be replaced by independent automotive upstart CarExpert.com.au.
It comes at a time when Carsguide and Autotrader face the strategic distractions of boardroom shenanigans at their new owner The Market Herald, and Nine doesn’t seem to quite know what to do with Drive. The only established automotive player that seems to be forging ahead is Carsales.
If the ACM - CarExpert.com.au partnership isn’t a prelude to a deeper ownership deal down the track, I’ll eat my hat.
Catalano is playing a long game. The ending will be to be the key regional player across multiple classifiied verticals. Property and cars come first. Jobs will folow one day.
Campaign of the week: Through their eyes
As regular readers will know, in each edition of BOTW, our friends at Little Black Book Online highlight the most interesting marketing campaign of the week
LBB Australia reporter Delmar Terblanche writes:
This week, we're focusing on the brilliant ‘Through Their Eyes’ campaign from Hero, for Maybelline. The campaign used a voice changer (and female profiles) to disguise two prominent male gaming Youtubers as women - and see what happens in an online space.
The abuse and vitriol both were subjected to was an eye-opener, and a reminder of just how far we still need to go in certain spaces.
Hear the story of the campaign from from Hero’s ECD Shane Geffen at LBB Online.
And the rest
Along with LBB, a couple of Unmade’s peers also deserve a shoutout this week.
MI3 has published an excellent guide to retail media. It makes a great primer for anyone attending RE:Made next week.
And last night Mumbrella announced that it is going daily with its podcast. I’m sure it will be worth a listen.
Seven lifts the Unmade Index
The Unmade Index had its strongest day in three weeks, rising by 1.78%, thanks mainly to an improvement in Seven West Media’s share price which had been struggling since last week’s market update.
Our index of Australia’s listed media and marketing stocks rose to 675.8 points.
The next best performer was Ooh Media, which rose by 1.86%. Ooh’s shares have surged by nearly 8% over the last week thanks to a decent set of full year results. Since the start of the year, Ooh has improved by 27%.
Time to let you enjoy your Saturday.
However… will you be able to sleep soundly tonight knowing that you don’t yet have tickets to next Thursday’s RE:Made - Retail Media Unmade? It’s not too late to do something about that.
Have a great weekend.
Publisher - Unmade
Amidst the understandable excitement and hard-headed yet nerdy schoolboy gung-ho of the money minded marketing world, who is providing, at the very least, an exploration of, or even hopefully an intelligent analysis of the social implications of these developments? We are a society not just a market. Journalism surely has a very important role in conveying well rounded facts and assessments. Otherwise it reduces itself to a collection of fans and followers in my opinion.