Foxtel loses another marketing director; Andrew Jaspan rides again; Matt Doran goes global

Although things have stabilised since Patrick Delany took charge, marketer tenure at Foxtel is still unusually short; and the News Media Bargaining Code is anything but settled

Welcome to Unmade, written on Wednesday morning while you were sleeping.

As I mentioned previously, with Unmade in its formative months, we’re still experimenting with the format. Today will once again be more of a digest style, tackling a number of topics including Foxtel’s marketing conveyor belt; Andrew Jaspan’s next project; Matt Doran’s unwanted global fame; and Nielsen’s moves on TV ratings.

Foxtel loses another marketer

Sarah Hewlett yesterday become the latest marketing director to leave Foxtel without, by the looks of it, having another job to go to. It follows what had been a period of stability at the media company which had gained a reputation as the biggest revolving door in the Australian marketing world. The churn rate of senior marketers had been even higher than that of Foxtel’s broadcast subscribers.

AdNews reported yesterday that Hewlett will depart next month “to spend more time with her family”. She will be replaced by Jo Bladen, a veteran of The Walt Disney Company in the UK and Australia, who more recently has been leading marketing for Roadshow Films.

Hewlett only joined Foxtel at the start of last year, after a career in the UK, including as head of marketing at the country’s biggest commercial broadcaster ITV, and before that at satellite broadcaster Sky.

It’s the second time in recent years that Foxtel, and parent company News Corp, has lost a blue chip TV marketer from the UK after too short a time. Corin Dimopoulos, arrived at News Corp as CMO in 2012 having gained a stellar reputation at Sky, including the creation of the Tour de France winning Team Sky cycling team. He lasted just a year and a half, exiting not long after the end of CEO Kim Williams’ tempestuous reign.

Since then Dimopoulos appears to have thrived at Optus over the last six years, including playing a major part in last week’s retention of the EPL rights.

Hewlett’s departure comes a few months after Foxtel’s entertainment streaming service Binge lost its CMO Louise Crompton to new rival Paramount Plus, after just two years with the company.

And it follows the arrival of Michael Nearhos as executive director of marketing in September.

For a long time the Foxtel culture was dominated by the trio of executive director of TV Brian Walsh, chief financial officer Gavin Dumsday, and chief general counsel Lynette Ireland. Walsh and Ireland have been with the company since it began while Dumsday was there for more than 15 years.

Newly arrived executives who did not align with them tended to move on quite quickly. That includes Deanne Weir, who lasted just over a year as executive director of channel aggregation and wholesale. And just a couple of weeks after Weir’s exit, it emerged that Mark Buckman - arguably the most accomplished marketer Australia has seen in the last decade - was leaving after just 18 months as managing director of customer and retail.

Others who came and went included Moritz von Hausenchild (Products and CCO); Andrew Lorken (Broadband, Technology and PMO); and Sharb Farjami (Content Commercialisation).

Marketing turnover has, however, stabilised since Patrick Delany arrived as Foxtel’s CEO at the start of 2018. The group has also begun to pull together a more coherent streaming strategy with the launch of Kayo, Binge and Flash.

The old trio’s hold on the culture began to break up after Delaney’s arrival. Dumsday departed not long afterwards, and Walsh was sidelined last year, given the company’s much diminished Foxtel Originals department, reporting in to the newly arrived chief commercial and content officer Amanda Laing.

The biggest departure from the marketing team since Delany took charge was Andy Lark, who lasted 11 months as chief marketing and digital officer. And Kayo’s head of brand and marketing Joel Moran lasted from 2018 to 2020.

The stability test now will be whether Bladen and the accomplished Nearhos stay the course as the group inches towards its likely IPO.

Jaspan’s next trick: 360info

Andrew Jaspan, the creator of academic publishing platform The Conversation, has broken cover on his next big project.

360info, headquartered at Monash University, will offer a public service journalism service, as a feed to major news publishers.

It’s the type of project that only Jaspan could create - combining his deep journalistic experience (he edited The Age, The Observer and The Scotsman) with the networking and fundraising skills it took to get universities and big brands to fund The Conversation, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. Jaspan, sadly, was not still there to celebrate it, having been edged out in acrimonious circumstances back in 2017.

The Conversation was an innovation in journalism, creating a new way of sharing academic insights, but edited with journalistic rigour. One of the clever things about The Conversation was not that it published in its own right, but that it also allowed other publishers to use its content, republished for free under Creative Commons. During my time with Mumbrella, we published dozens of articles that started life with The Conversation.

This time, the service to the publishers will be the main model. Jaspan tells The Age: “When you set up a website you need to market it hard, you need search engine optimisation, social media marketing and all that to attract an audience to your website. We’re not doing that. We’re operating like AAP or Reuters, but it’s a kind of research Reuters or AAP as opposed to doing breaking news.”

It’s the sort of project that Jaspan is uniquely qualified to deliver. I can think of very few top level editors who have proved to be entrepreneurial after leaving a big newsroom. It will be fascinating to see whether he can pull it off twice.

Nielsen’s ratings nightmares

The slight delays in OzTam getting the VOZ (Virtual Australia) total TV ratings system up and running have been put in context by the travails of the TV ratings system in the US.

This week, Nielsen finally unveiled a new framework for its ratings system after losing the support of the TV networks over its struggles to measure the all-important ad viewing metrics. The media owners claimed it was under-reporting viewing during the pandemic.

As The Drum explains it: “Under the new framework, dubbed Individual Commercial Metrics, Nielsen aims to provide advertisers with a more granular view into which viewers consumed which ads. Moving forward, audience estimates will be based on individual ads instead of commercial minutes.”

Lilliputians and the giants

Several of Australia’s smaller publishers have now formally come together as the Public Interest Publishers Alliance, to attempt to force Google and Facebook to negotiate with them, AdNews reports.

It’s going to create a fascinating dynamic as the News Media Bargaining Code reaches its end game.

Once these news outlets - the likes of Australian Rural & Regional News, Australian Chinese Daily, Out in Perth, Q News, Time Out, and The Australian Jewish News - get themselves recognised as news platforms by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Facebook and Google face the choice of either voluntarily negotiating with them, or risking being designated as being covered by the code, and forced to negotiate.

It’s also the negotiating role the Digital Publishers Alliance could have taken on, if it hadn’t accepted Google and Facebook as its major funders.

This is all likely to come to a head in January or February, where it will most likely end up as an election issue, just to keep things really interesting.

Dr Spin: Under researched and over exposed

Dr Spin writes:

It may be small comfort, but Matt Doran’s excruciating Adele blunder has delivered a level of fame that previously eluded Seven’s Weekend Sunrise presenter.

As most people will no doubt have seen, Doran flew to the UK for an exclusive interview with the pop singer timed to coincide with her new album release. He made the dual mistakes of failing to listen to the album before the interview, and then admitting as much to the British pop star. As a result, music label Sony refused to release the footage and Doran flew home empty handed.

Regular viewers of the ABC’s Four Corners might see the most unexpected element of the affair being Sony’s international operation showing any kind of interest in addressing a disrespectful act towards a woman, given its woeful track record in that department.

And while Doran is in the unfortunate position of now being Australia’s poster child of lazy access journalism, at least the world now knows his name.

Yesterday, i newspaper in the UK - which enjoys a circulation of 140,000 making it bigger than any of Australia’s - dedicated most of Page 3 to Doran.

Admittedly, being headlined as “Under-researched TV interviewer” may not be the perfect way of being introduced to the world, but at least they used his picture bigger than Adele’s.

Dr Spin hopes for Doran’s sake that his Sunrise contract still has a while to run.

Letters: Roy Morgan’s readership black box

Yesterday, Unmade discussed the remarkably high readership numbers for the Australian Financial Review, which apparently has 3.5m readers, despite a tight (and expensive) paywall.

Unmade - by Tim Burrowes
Stubbornness of the social media spoiler; ridiculous readership numbers; a favourable wind for HT&E
Welcome to Unmade, mostly written while you were sleeping early on Tuesday morning. A couple of pieces of housekeeping to kick off. First, a word of warning that there will be significant spoilers about the James Bond movie further down this newsletter. There will be another warning before we get to them, but if you plan on seeing the movie, I recommend b…
Read more

Gil Brown writes:

Dear Tim,

You have again pointed to bewildering “readership metrics” (Unmade, Oct 23) and surely it is time this farce should be laid bare. How can major publishers ditch the inconvenient truth of falling newspaper subscriptions in official audits to replace it with such an ambiguous and more flattering model?

Here in New Zealand, where print subscriptions have declined steadily since mid-2000s , the largest publisher dropped such audits and now boasts its major
masthead (New Zealand Herald) has 640,000 daily readers - about six times the last official audit. Presumably, subscribers devour the paper and then leave it in the letterbox of neighbours when it is then shared down the street!

G Brown.

Sustainability Matters

Before I sign off, if you’ve spare time later today, I’ll be wearing my editor-at-large hat for Mumbrella and moderating a free webinar to launch the Sustainability Matters initiative.

I’ll be introducing Nestle’s Oceania’s head of corporate affairs and sustainability Margaret Stuart; Meredith Epp from Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation; Ryan Collins from Planet Ark; and Jenni Downes from Monash University’s BehaviourWorks Australia to discuss the intersection between the world of marketing and the realities of sustainability.

It kicks off at 2pm eastern, and you can still register via this link.

And a reminder in case you missed it yesterday: We’re running a special offer for the next three weeks or so to subscribe to the paid tier of Unmade at the discounted price of $169 per year.

Get 74% off for 1 year

Only paying subscribers are able to receive all of Unmade’s analytical posts and podcasts. That price will never be as cheap again.

Have a great Wednesday.


Tim Burrowes

Proprietor - Unmade