Real time bidding on people and mental health must take precedence

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 25 March 2019
Pippa Chambers

This first appeared as Editor's Letter in the April Edition

AdNews prides itself on being a positive and constructive force within the fiercely competitive and crowded trade press landscape.

We've always taken a hard-line when it comes to defamatory comments on stories; we steer away from clickbait news (and opinion pieces) that some of our rivals indulge in and ensure we have control over content by not allowing anyone to simply ‘upload’ a press release on our site.

While we never shy away from the truth, hide who lost out in a pitch or fail to tackle big industry challenges, it’s been important for us not to get lost in some of the doom and gloom and look for the upside.

Plenty of our front covers could have taken a turn towards the darker side on certain topics – including our diversity and parental leave issue – or even our Power 50 issue which continues to be dominated by the same subset of white older males, but instead we have highlighted the solutions and the changes ahead to remedy contentious or troublesome issues.

However, when presented with this front cover by the Youngbloods, an industry committee made up of young talent from across agencies, powered by The Communications Council, it made for an even starker realisation that we need to hold our hands up and acknowledge when something really is sad news. 

SadNews cover (USE THIS ONE)

April 2019 front cover

The SAdNews cover refers to the first major study into mental health within the media, marketing and creative sector in Australia, conducted by UnLtd, which unearthed some dismaying findings that need addressing in far more than a single online news story.

A total of 61% of creatives have symptoms of depression, 75% work while not physically or mentally well, 57% show signs of stress – and the stats roll on.

While it’s not the glass half full stance, and we are not ignoring the fact that there is some great work being done to help struggling adland execs and the younger generation with their mental health, the findings weren't good and more work needs to be done.

In the April magazine we revisit the survey findings, speak with the people behind the study and ask a selection of adland companies what they are doing internally to address staff mental health and wellbeing.

We are often told that learning of other people’s struggles can in fact help us open up about our own, so we also hear from a selection of top execs at Colenso, Facebook, Interbrand and more on what challenges they have faced.

A huge thank you goes out to brave people such as Maria Devereux, Catherine Bowe, Davy Rennie, Mike Morrison, Mitch Wallis and Gai Le Roy, who took the time to open up and share such personal stories.


Above: Agencies share what they are doing to improve staff wellbeing

No single agency stood out to me to approach for this topic so with young people the future blood of our industry, there seemed no better fit than the Youngbloods. The nationwide group of young talent who were enthusiastic from the get-go and embraced the brief on the theme of adland's mental health with open arms.

On page 31 we also address the issue of negative and anonymous comments and if there’s one thing people should take away, it’s to “think before you press send” – as the personal experiences highlight, you have no idea what is going on in someone’s life before you decide to tear them or their work press have a role to play here and while we feel we are stricter than others, people can still comment on our site under a false name and can register a false email address.However it then falls us on us to moderate accordingly.

Market feedback suggests that while some have improved, there is still work to do.

One rival publisher disagrees that their publication is particularly damning, telling AdNews the business sees it as giving a voice to the industry without fear of reprisals – adding that it doesn’t allow “overly negative personal comments” and intends to keep the site as it is.

However, with anonymous comments including the work is “a piece of shit” and “execution tastes like a dog turd”, AdNews isn’t so sure that creatives involved wouldn’t find such remarks “overly personal” and that it’s helping the industry overall.

AdNews also wants to hear from readers as to how we can better cover the topic of mental health so please reach out. Email us

Check out what else in the April edition:

Behind the Cover: Youngbloods, a not–for–profit group of young talent powered by The Communications Council were the perfect choice to tackle the important issue of mental health.

The Work: The Heart Foundation and News Corp show us the results of a killer campaign

Spotted: Industry photo wrap of who is doing what where?

Spotlight: This feature aims to shine a light on smaller or more unique agencies. We catch-up with indie shop Daylight

Creative Review: We asked creatives to judge brand partnerships with some of the nation’s biggest sporting events

Agenda: AdNews looks into the rising world of Broadcast Video On Demand

Meet the Team: We look at how Starcom is carving out its place in the media agency landscape

Adland Secrets: Confessions of an ex-industry journalist

Picture This: Our illustrator casts a cheeky eye over adland people and trends

Click here to zoom in

Profile: We look at how head of Wavemaker, Peter Vogel, has made his mark on the industry

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