Merger mooted, but MFA and Comms Council clash over future structure

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 13 June 2017
Sophie Madden and Tony Hale

Comms Council CEO Tony Hale believes operating the Media Federation Australia and The Communications Council as separate bodies does the industry a disservice.

Just as separating media and creative was a mistake, having separate bodies to represent the interests of the creative and media sides of the industry "doesn't make sense", he believes.

“I agree that there is a weakness in Australia. Once again, we shoot ourselves in the foot by separating creative and media agencies and having a separate MFA to The Comms Council. To me it doesn’t make sense,” Hale said, speaking on the AdNews podcast alongside Ogilvy’s David Fox and Toby Harrison.

“We don’t have the clout of their media dollar and they don’t have our creativity. We can’t leverage ourselves. We are weakened in the face of a very challenged market place that is moving quickly.”

Other countries have media and creative representation as one force, such as the US with the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the UK with The Voice of British Advertisers.

MFA CEO Sophie Madden refuted the claims from Hale, saying she didn’t agree that the two entities need to come together.

“We are getting really distracted by worrying about the MFA and The Comms Council being separate. We collaborate and we work together, so just because we are separate doesn’t mean we don’t meet regularly and have shared issues that we try to address together,” Madden told AdNews.

“Worrying about our constitutions and corporate structures is a distraction from all the other things that The Comms Council and the MFA are trying to do.”

While Madden said there isn’t a desire from members to combine the Comms Council and the MFA, she didn’t rule out the possibility in the future.

“As media agencies and creative agencies work more closely together, so should we. The lines are getting blurred between media and creative agencies, so industry representation could change in the future, but in the meantime, we will work as closely together as we can.”

Listen to the AdNews podcast on iTunes to hear more from Hale. The conversation also touched on the role of consultancies and Ogilvy’s evolution.

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