The Comms Council, MFA and AANA address industry reputation at event last night in Sydney

picfrontcomms.jpgInnovation, creativity and the workplace have been highlighted as the top three strengths of the Australian marketing communications industry in the eyes of today's clients.
The findings, which show Australian marketing agencies are highly regarded among clients but have work to do in building the trust of the general public, were released at a presentation evening at Lion in Sydney this evening by The Communications Council and The Media Federation of Australia (MFA), as part of a major industry reputation study developed by AMR Research to provide a benchmark for reputation progress.

View the study here - Industry Reputation Study 2013 (TCC & MFA).pdf
Signalling the promise of greater cross-industry collaboration in the future, this is the first major industry issue in fifteen years to be jointly addressed by The Communications Council and MFA who commissioned the study, and The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), which hosted the evening's event at their Industry Association Christmas drinks.

Says Margaret Zabel, CEO of The Communications Council, and Sophie Madden, CEO of the MFA: "As your industry bodies, it is a priority for us to promote the value of agencies and to offer insights and guidance to help raise the professionalism and profitability of agencies.  Our industry reputation is essential not only to our survival but critical to building trust and confidence with our clients (and broader stakeholders) which in turn has a direct and profound effect on our bottom line." 

The survey questioned clients, the general public, and agencies themselves to provide a holistic understanding of where the industry's strength and weaknesses lie. The study revealed that CMOs and CEOs placed most importance on creativity and innovation, followed by leadership and then business integrity. Discrepancies arose when comparing responses from agencies, which, for example, had leadership as the least important of the seven areas.

Says Sudeep Gohil, chairman of The Communications Council and CEO of Droga5: "Today's clients are looking for greater leadership and strategic insight from senior levels; they need agencies to offer not just campaign ideas but real business solutions. Our results show that this is an area where agencies need to place more emphasis. We must also focus on what clients feel is providing great value currently - the feedback has been extremely positive, with creativity and innovation highlighted as core strengths. Developing these strengths is equally important in retaining or building a positive reputation."

Commstable.jpg   Business integrity and governance stood out as one common driver, suggesting this should be a core component of any industry reputation plan.

Learnings from the qualitative focus group with clients also highlighted the importance of collaboration - particularly between creative, media and digital agencies - as requiring further attention, with a desire for agencies to take greater responsibility over organising collaborative relationships.

Says Henry Tajer, chairman of the MFA and executive chairman of IPG Mediabrands: "Fragmentation of channels and connections has brought a greater need for agencies to work collaboratively, and we know that many are still getting to grips with these changes. Our findings show that clients want agencies to take the reins on managing these relationships as too often they feel they are left with that responsibility. With these insights we can be much more proactive in working to meet those expectations."

Providing guidance for agencies, CMOs and CEOs outlined the key attributes required in the future agency model, with 'collaboration', 'agility' and 'future-focused' at the core.

While feedback from Australia's business leaders was both positive and constructive, the general public's perception suggested a lack of trust in the sector, with respondents criticising the overall governance and services provided, and ranking the marketing communications industry on par with the insurance industry and behind the mining industry. 

While recognising that drivers of reputation differ across each group, The Communications Council, the MFA and the AANA hope to use these insights as a basis for future initiatives, and encourage agencies to consider the findings as guidance around developing client needs.

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