Despite caution towards the end of last year, Australian budgets experienced minimal cuts. And while auto brands had a dismal year in most markets, Australia offered respite as Government tax incentives fuelled purchases. What does seem to have changed as a result of the downturn is the level of interest in alternative channels enabling greater interaction.
"The notion of brands to consumer, like parent to child, is outmoded," says Craig Davis, co-chairman and chief creative officer of Publicis Mojo Australia and New Zealand.
Andrew Baxter, CEO of Ogilvy Melbourne, points to a marked shift towards "more accountable mediums", driven by an ever-increasing amount of customer data available to marketers. In light of this, advertisers are abandoning a centralised strategy and targeting localised groups and communities, reaching out to them via social media and involving them in campaigns. One of the most recent examples of the new approach comes from Coca-Cola. The soft drink giant's latest campaigns target the youth art, music and boarding communities but instead of ads, the company is producing documentary content, featuring respected figures from those communities. The content will be aired via web, mobile and live events.
Davis says the approach is an effort to give advertising a social value it has not typically had before by "creating content and telling people's stories in new ways".
To tap into the increasingly active, informed consumer sphere online, where almost anyone can become a publisher of content, Qantas launched 'All of Aus' across mainstream media and social networks. The campaign invited Australians to define what "makes the country great", generating a significant amount of interest.
Meanwhile, low-cost airline carrier Jetstar has recently made the decision to channel 40 per cent of its marketing budget to social media. With budgets and confidence returning among both marketers and consumers, the level of experimentation looks set to increase. "Sites like Facebook have dominated everyone's thoughts," says Andrew Scott, managing director of Whybin\TBWA.
"Last year was spent educating people on what social media means for their business. Now they're educated, they are fully into it. Clients really are looking for a holistic answer. Above-the-line still plays a major role in driving awareness, but digital is essential from an engagement point of view."
Australia Top 20 brands
1 Network 7
2 Network 9
3 Network 10
1 Sunday Telegraph
2 Sunday Herald Sun
3 Sunday Mail
4 Herald Sun (Sat)
5 Herald Sun (Mon-Fri)
This article was originally published as part of the 2010 Top 1000 Brands report.