This summer, Australia’s cricket team basked in the triumphal glow of Ashes redemption. It was a brilliant time for a quasi-Brit to arrive in Sydney. The feeling in adland was similar as local campaigns dominated at last year’s One Show, D&AD and Cannes.
Australian advertising has been gathering momentum over the years. In 2009, Australia received a record 45 Lions. In 2012, it was 59. And, in 2013, the industry did it again, with 26 Lions – including five Grands Prix – for one campaign alone (no prix for guessing which one).
The country has always had global ambitions, with many expats making their mark on the industry worldwide. Now the local work is starting to consistently match those aspirations.
One surprise about the ad market is that it’s deceptively big. And with that size comes big opportunities and the budgets to capitalise on them. As a result, corporates are starting to attract chief marketing officers with serious global experience.
Traditionally, Australian corporate marketers haven’t quite been afforded the same C-level stature as their counterparts in the UK and the US. With increasing numbers of CMOs taking their place in the boardroom, there’s every opportunity for Australian advertising to reach even greater heights.
Agencies are also attracting more international talent. In fact, local agencies are full of managing directors, creative directors and planning directors from overseas – people who have had the opportunity to produce brilliant work in other markets, and are keen to introduce the quality of people and practices on offer elsewhere.
The 'can do' Aussie attitude is infectious. No doubt why many come here but few leave
Combine that with Australia’s famous optimism, work ethic and bias to action, and you can see the opportunity.
Australia is no longer as isolated as it once was either, with agencies now happy to work with the best production companies around the world.
But global ambitions haven’t altered the dynamics of the local industry. With fewer layers, it’s generally easier to reach decision-makers for approval (even more so in New Zealand), and there’s a strong appetite for local campaigns that connect with Aussie humour and culture.
There was much hand-wringing a couple of years back when Australian agencies were floundering in digital, but they’re now starting to outperform in both mobile and interactive – although the local internet performance could do with some improvement.
It’s such a thrilling time to be working in this market. There’s shared pride in the global successes and a widespread desire to do fantastic work. The "can do" Aussie attitude is infectious. No doubt why many come here but few leave.
The challenge now is to produce ridiculously good work at every level. The building blocks are in place. Get set for the land down under to dominate on top.
Jaimes Leggett is the chief executive at M&C Saatchi Australasia