Perspectives - Joe Frazer at Half Dome - A cultural shift

By AdNews | 7 December 2021
Joe Frazer.

AdNews is following the WFH Diaries with a series of Perspectives, asking two questions: What did you learn in 2021 and what are you looking forward to in 2022? We've also encouraged the industry to glam, dress for the best, and face next year with optimism. 

Joe Frazer, Managing Partner and Head of Growth, Half Dome:

2020 + 1. I think it was the year none of us wanted, a mirror image of 2020 and in some ways more drawn out, and with even less certainty.

Whilst there is more than enough content to talk about the challenges of 2020, for me personally it was one of the most fulfilling in terms of the positive momentum gained, and stories written, out of an industry that had no right to flourish.

2020, and the onset of COVID, shone the light on mental health as an epidemic that was negatively impacting a significant portion of our industry. Faced with this great adversity, one that takes organisations and cultures as embedded as that within the media industry usual (and literal) generations to shift, in the short space of 18 months it feels like the progress made has changed the game forever in Australia.

Mental Health First Aid, Workplace Flexibility, Empath Leaders; these are table stakes now and would have been scoffed at around long lunch tables only two years ago.

Flexibility for me is the most important concept here, not for the work from home impact, but for the second order impact on the fundamental opportunities offered to individuals. It means mums and dads can still be full time in senior roles but look after their kids (which is close to my heart), it means people can spend time with family and friends whilst getting promoted and it opens up a raft of possibilities in terms of when, and how, people work. In my mind the true impact of this shift will only be felt in 5-10 years once we all figure out what it really means, but for now, it has progressed equality at a frighteningly good pace.

There are new challenges this brings as well, challenges those working at home with kids, or in a share house around a kitchen table would only be to aware of. But I’m confident as an industry we will navigate these.

It’s been an unbelievable time for the work also.

As the owner of an independent, digital first media agency, my view is unashamedly biased. Something I don’t apologise for.

Commerce and the future of retail has done a Marty McFly and jumped back in time 15 years, a well-documented trend. The ACCC (the eye of Sauron) has turned its attention to the duopoly and change is imminent. In general, the industry seems to have grown up, the conversations I am part of today are lightyears from those being had two years ago.

Again, all of this seems to have further promoted a cultural shift in the industry towards deeper and more meaningful agency/client partnerships, as clients are looking to build capability quickly in a changing landscape. As I can see, the industry has shifted from a transactional mindset, to being so much more value based. This is evident in Indie land, with clients who would previously not consider working with highly talented, lean outfits moving away from multinationals and the process and rigidity they offer.

If only the NSW Government agreed.

Next year I expect to see more of the same, the companies who are offering solutions and processes that allow companies to navigate this changing landscape will thrive, whilst those selling products will continue to struggle to differentiate and keep up with rapidly occurring innovation.


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