Perspective - A quantum shift in more brands leveraging indies

By Dave Levett | 29 November 2023
Dave Levett.

To me 2023 has been all about how much we rediscovered what it’s like to experience moments with people again.  There were a few hard years, working remotely in isolation, where that sense of camaraderie, and of shared moments were difficult to provide. But 2023 brought back the experience of working in teams and reinstated the value that collaboration and teamwork plays both for clients and for agency culture. 

Australians are bouncing back to shared experiences, with sports, entertainment and hospitality all experiencing unprecedented growth and improvement year-on-year.  Football in Australia seems to be undergoing its own renaissance with The Matildas at the vanguard, becoming one of the most attended women’s sporting events in history - as well as setting a new record for the biggest attendance in the tournament’s history.   

Tickets to events are being sold out earlier than ever and more people are attending events than pre-Covid times. Our clients in sport are seeing huge year-on-year growth in attendance, and Australia held host for the FIFA Women's World Cup which was an astounding success with historic and record-breaking crowd levels nationwide. 

The impact on our industry can’t be understated, with SMI Managing Director Jane Ractliffe noting earlier this year that “within the advertiser market we saw that advertising by sports-related groups surged in July with SMI’s sports category the fastest growing of any with total bookings up 205% year-on-year.” 

Sydney played host to SXSW - the first time the cultural and industrial institution has ever moved outside of Texas for the foreseeable future.  The sheer quality, size and scale of the festival delivered creativity, culture and technology on a grandiose scale.   

Who will forget David Droga’s ode to the industry or Futurist Amy Webb talking about the effect of AI and her take on the blurring of lines between machine and human.? SxSW will no doubt become a milestone moment in calendars for years to come and will have a dramatic effect on the minds and ideation of Australia’s media and marketing industry.

Creative industries are already being shaken with the blurring line between human and machine productivity & output being accelerated - if not replaced - and media agencies will see similar impact in the year to come as planners will have learning’s, ideas, and tactics laced with ‘marketing effectiveness’ from AI at their fingertips. 

With borders back open, staffing levels are getting back to where they were and it’s easier to find staff.  That’s not to say the talent crisis is over, but as we move into 2024 agencies – large and small – are looking outside the traditional hiring pools and as a result finding talent with new perspectives and capabilities to bring to the table. 

We also saw a quantum shift in more and more brands seeing the value in leveraging bespoke and independent expertise and appointing Indie Agencies to their business, just look at the likes of KIA. There is a rising movement of the Independents, supported by partners and programs such as IMAA which continues to go from strength-to-strength as a result. 

For brands and advertisers, the big opportunities for 2024 lie in the continued fragmentation of broadcast media.  All broadcast platforms now have digital streaming platforms and alternatives, with a greater ability to target into niche audiences, and receive greater data and insights into performance. 

The launch of planning platforms like Seven’s total TV trading platform Phoenix, Foxtel’s partnership with VideoAmp for measurement, and even oOh! Outcomes are all giving agencies and brands greater clarity on their investment returns - especially when it comes to broadcast and large format.  

Collaboration, innovation and teamwork in the office has seen a renewed focus on finding initiatives or processes to drive an office culture that sees people return to the office because they want to, not have to. 

At Murmur, this year in particular has seen a large focus on personal accomplishment - outside of your professional work.  Every staff member receives an additional week annual leave to achieve a personal goal, and for me my goal was tackling the 100km Oxfam Walk.  

Having a team around you in the lead-up, training, on the day walking with you, and having a phenomenal support crew around at various checkpoints reinstated the value that collaboration, and teamwork plays. 

I’m looking forward to the collaborations, partnerships and connections that 2024 has in store - because they’ll be the memories that stay with us. 

Dave Levett is Managing Director at Murmur-Group 

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