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So when I was at the NINEMSN conference a couple of weeks ago, I was asked when W+K would open a shop there.
Now obviously I have no idea because I’m not the person who decides such things – but if I was, I’d of said “probably never” because as much as Australia spends more per capita on advertising than anywhere else in the World, there are 2 critical factors that – for me – work against it.
1. The population is too small.
2. The country is only interested in developing ideas for that population.
Let me explain myself a bit more clearly.
When I first moved to Australia, I was surprised how many people talked about only doing work that was right for Australia.
This was more than just ensuring relevance and resonance with the population, this was about actively keeping themselves apart from other cultures and countries.
Sure, there is influence from the UK and US … but at it’s heart, so much of the work that is lauded in Australia is work that will only appeal to the people of Australia.
And that seems a bit mad.
While I’m a huge advocate of doing work that is culturally correct – which, ironically in Australia, should be very varied given their multicultural status – to purposefully alienate other markets, consciously or not, seems ridiculous … especially when your population is so relatively small.
I know a lot of people will probably disagree with me … and I am not including campaigns like Aussie Tourism or Qantas who have a direct commercial need to communicate to other markets [though as I’ve written previously, they are often blueprints for how NOT to do it] … however I find it interesting that a country that seems to only regard themselves as successful when other countries heap praise on them, has an advertising and marketing industry that appears to actively want to live within it’s own borders and bubble.
Of course not everyone is like this – and I think it’s fantastic that so many people from so many other countries are there, because it will hopefully add fresh thinking to what can be achieved – however until companies become more ambitious and encourage their people and clients to create ‘exportable’ ideas [which given their location, means Asia has a desire to buy them] then their appeal to agencies like W+K is probably going to be fairly limited … unless the founders of those companies have a direct association with Australia, ala Droga5 and [at the time] Naked etc.
I hope I’m wrong, because there’s a ridiculous amount of talent there and they should not be contained by corporate fear or myopic nationalism.
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