Industry Profile: Pandora ANZ commercial director, Chris Freel

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 10 February 2017

Our Industry Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

Previously we spoke with Carat Melbourne managing director, Joseph Pardillo. This week we chat to Pandora ANZ commercial director, Chris Freel.

Duration in current role/time at the company: 

14 months.

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

It’s the world’s most powerful music discovery platform – the top destination for brands, bands and fans.

In one sentence, what does your role involve?

Educating clients on the power of audio, the streaming category and the role Pandora can play to help drive their businesses forward.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?

So many things! We’ve had more listeners enjoying Pandora – now over 1.3 million active users across ANZ, spending on average 2.3 hours on the platform every day, the highest of any music platform. We worked with more than 400 advertisers in 2016, over 50% of this was new business, and over 80% returning having experienced the effectiveness of the platform. Working with ANZ musicians to help them to grow their fame and fortune at home and in the US. Powering the country’s largest in-store internet radio network for Woolworths and BWS, and our sales team ranking second in Media i across ALL digital media owners nationwide, a great result for a small team that’s only been around for 3 years.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

The people. I am co-founder of the infamous UnLtd Big Clash charity cricket agencies vs media owners event, which is coming up very soon on Thursday 16 February at Sydney Uni Oval – with the inimitable Rosie Baker as one of our umpires. Not only can I indulge my love of cricket, I also get to hang out with some great people for a great cause. I encourage all of you to come along and donate, which you can also do here -

Previous industry related (ad land/ad tech) companies you have worked at:

My first job selling deckchairs and donkey rides on Blackpool beach was an early sign of a commercially driven future. I graduated to become President of Coventry University Students’ Union that honed my relationship-driven leadership approach, and then started proper work as a journo for Time Out reviewing pubs and clubs in the West Midlands area of the UK. I worked for a decade in events, marketing and sales for three companies in London before moving to Australia in 2008 and spending six years at Fairfax leading the national sales team.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?

Helping Pandora to lead local and global expansion.

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

The pressure on CMOs. The average tenure of a CMO has dwindled in recent years and the pressure for them to deliver is immense. This is having a knock on effect into agencies and publishers and resulting in too much short-term thinking and rate based/ROI focus on performance metrics. This makes it much more difficult to deliver sustainable results, build a brand and embrace innovation and new ways of thinking. A lot of CMOs are risk averse out of a fear of failure and if we are really going to drive positive change we need to give more backing and stability to those responsible for leading the marketing charge.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

I have a tattoo.

Top networking tip:

Be genuine, be interested and be present.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

Nomad in Sydney, Lucy Liu in Melbourne.

My favourite advert is:

Cadbury's Milk Tray ads of the 1980s and 1990s, always wanted to be the Milk Tray man.

My must-have gadget is:

Portable speaker Pandora enabled (easier to carry than the Boombox I had in the 1980s).

My favourite media is:

I consume and love all media channels depending on my mood and how much time I have, as long as the content is entertaining.

My favourite TV show is:

I love rubbish TV and anything sport related, toss-up between The Bachelor, The Big Bash and The Biggest Loser.

The last book I read:

“Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life” by James Kerr, really struck a chord with me on what leadership and teamwork is all about.

My mantra / philosophy is:

I’ve got a few, hard to choose! Inspired by my musical heroes I abide by Don’t Look back in Anger, Love is the Key and the chorus to Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping.

I got into marketing and advertising because:

I love it.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

A sports journalist.

In five years' time I'll be:

Really old.

Define your job in one word:


What's your poison:

Red wine: Rockford Basket Press on special occasions.

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