Business News CEO highlights exit of local brands with special reference to Tourism WA

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Business News has addressed the effect of brands leaving the state on the local advertising industry in an op-ed piece by CEO Mark Pownall. In it, Pownall has highlighted the Tourism WA account, which is currently being reviewed.

"The result has been a hollowing out of the local sector as major accounts disappeared....One such case is the state government's tourism advertising, which has been overseen by interstate agencies for a decade. 

It is big business by WA advertising standards. Last year Tourism WA spent more than $14 million on advertising and marketing, the bulk of it through agencies based elsewhere. 
The argument was that WA does not have the talent. Some in the industry acknowledge the lack of talent but say the lack of state government spending here means we will never get that expertise to stay.

It also means that those who honed their skills on big government work are not able to also help private tourism operators domiciled here. If the tourism marketing over the past decade had been successful, it might be easy to support the view that talent lies elsewhere. However, the challenges in the sector suggest its promotion has been one of its weak points. Perhaps WA's tourism budget, big by local standards, can't attract the attention it needs in bigger markets?"
The Tourism WA account was awarded to Sydney agency Host in 2009, and then moved to Melbourne's Cummins & Partners in 2014 following a review. 

Based on Tourism WA Annual Reports, spend on ad agency fees, media agency fees, production and research has been an average of $12.581m over the past six years.

Over the same period, ad agency fees have averaged $3.257m, enough to provide permanent, full-time employment locally for up to 20 people, which would boost the level of tourism marketing expertise here.

As has been well documented recently, Western Australia's tourism numbers are the worst in Australia. 

Outgoing PADC President Mark Braddock has also addressed the broader issue of accounts leaving WA in a soon-to-be-published interview with Campaign Brief WA. Braddock says:

"A tiny minority of PADC members have benefitted from some of these moves, but the cost to the majority has been horrendous. And what it's done for the opportunities for the industry's next generation is criminal. These clients have a responsibility to invest in the state's capacity and to encourage their local communications suppliers to innovate more if they find them lacking...Unfortunately, the schadenfreude of seeing Tourism WA struggle so much doesn't compensate at all for the jobs these moves have cost the industry."

Premier Mark McGowan has previously stated he'd prefer the account to be returned to WA, but some senior agency figures Campaign Brief WA has spoken to have told us they think it's still only a 50/50 proposition. 

There is also some suspicion that the terms of the tender give the State Government a political 'out'. It calls for a lead strategic and creative agency, and a panel of implementation agencies across various requirements. The view is that Tourism WA could appoint an eastern states agency to the lead role but argue there are still opportunities for local suppliers in the implementation areas. 

Submissions for the account close next Thursday, February 14.

2 Comments

WA Made said:

The account moving east has created a massive structural and resource shortfall for any business in WA that wants to access tourism or destination marketing expertise because the best place to train and learn tourism marketing consulting is in the ad agency with the tourism account.

So we now have a situation where local tourism businesses can't find the local expertise because the WA Government (via TourismWA) has trained up a bunch of people living in Sydney and Melbourne. This means that Sydney and Melbourne tourism operators have access to better resources than WA tourism operators, and so the cycle goes on.

Buy WA said:

The tourism account provides a massive opportunity for the local industry to demonstrate to the world what it can do and for Tourism WA/Govt to use an agency that understands the DNA of our state. For me it’s not so much that they should use an agency here because it would support our economy but rather it makes good business sense. The quality of thinking here is just as good as, if not better than ‘over east’’. I have worked in the industry nationally and internationally and it’s simply not the case that agencies based there are more capable. Tourism WA need to make the right decision, let’s hope they do.

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