SWOT: The Media Self-Implodes (Again)

Plus: Aussie Content Going Global, Media Coverage of Bondi Attacks.
SWOT: The Media Self-Implodes (Again)
Photo by Sam McGhee / Unsplash

Welcome to SWOT by Sound Story, your weekly inside track on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats looming for the entertainment industry.

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Trending: The infamous Glasgow Wonka Experience is set to be recreated in Los Angeles. Hollywood actor Zach Galifianakis is rumoured to be involved. Words by The Project. Source: 10Play

🎵 Music: Co-founder of Oztix says events run by companies ultimately owned by multinationals should not be propped up by Australian taxpayers.  Words by Kelly Burke. Source: The Guardian

📰 Media: Marvel laid off 15 staffers on Monday. The layoffs were predicated by the overall reduction in Marvel’s slate after the challenges of the 2023 releases led the company to reassess the rapid increase in productions to feed the launch of Disney+. Words by Adam B. Vary. Source: Variety

💰 Advertising: Sexist ads are back, baby. Words by Tim Burrowes. Source: Unmade.

📲 Tech: New Zealand’s Eventfinda presses the button on its TixSuite platform in Australia, a novel subscription software that its creators hope will blow-up with small and regional venues. Words by Lars Brandle. Source: The Music Network

📜 Government: eSafety commissioner orders X and Meta to remove violent videos following Sydney church stabbing. Words by Josh Taylor, Mostafa Rachwani & Jordyn Beazley. Source: The Guardian

🌶️ Spicy: Coles responds to comedian after he went off at the supermarket’s self-serve checkouts. Words by Lachlan Hodson. Source: Pedestrian

Strength: Aussie Content Going Global

It’s been a big week for exporting Australian screen content, with both Heartbreak High and Bluey igniting conversations about youth-orientated content, screen stories going beyond the confines of their target demographic, authenticity in storytelling and much more. 

So we asked the Sound Story team: Why do you think these Aussie exports are travelling so well?

📌 Vivienne: It’s a testament to the sheer strength of Bluey that it could cut through the newscycle this week. Not many animated animal families could get attention amidst a mass murder at a shopping centre, discussions of Australia’s epidemic of men’s violence, an incident which was dubbed a ‘terrorist attack’ at a church and subsequent riots, mounting international tensions, and an historic defamation ruling with implications for TV networks, politicians and media identities, just to name a few. But the Bluey headlines were coming thick and fast. There was speculation about what it means for the future of the series – is it ending, or is it an audience test for a feature-length Bluey film? Articles are encouraging you to watch it even if you don’t have children, and if you do, there are articles about how the show’s making you cry. Bluey is travelling well for a number of reasons. It’s intelligent storytelling, story crafting and story marketing – indeed it’s been called a marketing masterclass. Its universal themes and questions have reignited appointment viewing and driven the desire for viewing parties. Who’d have thought there would be adults worried about spoilers for a children’s TV show, let alone ditching work to see it? 

📌 Zanda: Australia has a long history of exporting content overseas. Classic examples include Neighbours, McLeod’s Daughters, Round The Twist and others with ranging audience profiles, and all of which have been exported to over 100 territories globally. It does feel that there was a time gap, and a lull in quality Aussie content doing well in other markets, but we’re now in a clear upward trend. Teen and kids shows in particular are continuing to have a moment, a trend some have attributed to international platforms like Netflix and Disney+. Heartbreak High and Bluey are two recent examples where the impact seems amplified compared to those of the past, and it is possible that this just seems to be the case due to the pervasiveness of being online 24/7. It’s no coincidence that from then to now, Aussie content that proves itself worthy outside of Australia is soundtracked by top-tier music. Singer-songwriter Megan Washington, who voices Calypso (Bluey’s teacher), wrote the song that made adults around the world cry in the recent epic episode “The Sign”, is just the latest example of this. Television and film has long been a way of exporting Aussie musicians, and long may this continue!

Weakness: Media Coverage of Bondi Attacks

The horrific violence in Bondi this week showcased the best and worst on offer from humanity, social media and Australia’s media. 

👉 The Guardian’s Nikki Marshall reminded us of the power of careful, considered and clever first-person accounts, particularly in the face of widespread unfiltered and ill-considered content on social media.

👉 Other outlets, however, weren’t as careful, considered or clever in their decisions, particularly in the absence of clarity.

👉 Crikey has recommended that in order to do better next time, we need to learn these five lessons, including, but not limited to: don’t trust social media.

👉 Perhaps a healthier distrust of social media would have prevented the Seven Network from misidentifying the perpetrator.

👉 Misinformation on social media was rampant both during and after the attack, and Seven compounded the problem by picking up something which was being said on social media and repeating it as fact.

👉 Seven may have apologised for the “human error”, but he’s already hired lawyers to sue the network for the damage it caused.

👉 Seven weren’t the only ones apologising this week.

👉 The ABC’s Media Watch host Paul Barry suggested Sky News reporter Laura Jayes had been first to identify a victim, before it was official, saying: “Meanwhile the media were leading with the tragic story of the Sydney woman whose baby had been stabbed in her pram, with SKY’s Laura Jayes setting reporters on the trail.”

👉 He’s since offered a (pretty light) apology on X, noting that she actually worked hard to protect her friend’s privacy.

Opportunity: Let The Games Begin

We’re now fewer than 100 days out from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, so brands, marketers and media alike are looking at how they can make the most of the opportunity. 

👉 The Nine Network has revealed more of its broadcast plans, unveiling a “state-of-the-art upgrade” for its digital platform 9Now.

👉 Its app will feature over 40 individual live sports channels, and over 2,500 on-demand highlights, as well as five Olympic-themed documentaries.

👉 “We’re committed to offering the most comprehensive streaming coverage of an Olympic Games ever,” Nine’s Chief Product Officer, Bec Haagsma said.

👉 Associating yourself with Brand Olympics brings with it high scrutiny and high expectations though.

👉 Nike, for example, has faced heavy criticism for the design of uniforms for some female athletes.

Threat: The Media Self-Imploding Over Bruce

It was another big week for men named Bruce.

👉 Former political staffer turned ‘karaoke kid’, Bruce Lehrmann, lost his landmark defamation case against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson.

👉 Despite the definitive ruling, the fallout for Bruce, and those caught up in his wake, continues.

👉 Unmade’s Tim Burrowes penned a piece noting that “if a TV network puts a roof over a rapist’s head, employs a war criminal and pays a creep, it might just have a culture problem” –  a sentiment echoed across the media spectrum.

👉 And there could yet be more to come, with The Sydney Morning Herald noting other angry legal letters and texts doing the rounds, and News.com.au flagging potential legal action from Taylor Auerbach.

👉 This flurry of negative headlines has well and truly put the spotlight (😉) on Seven’s culture and conduct, with media agency heavyweight Mat Baxter claiming “Network Seven is in danger of becoming a liability for clients”.

👉 (Interestingly, the Mediaweek headline about this LinkedIn post went from being “Mat Baxter: 'Seven in danger of becoming a liability for clients'” to “Mat Baxter on ‘industry need[ing] a strong and vibrant Seven’”, which – if nothing else – is quite the tone/ angle shift).

👉 This prompted Seven’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mel Hopkins, to herself make a lengthy post about the many and varied reasons she is proud to work for the network.

👉 It was an interesting comms decision, given the varied and valid criticism coming at Seven in recent weeks.

👉 Perhaps Seven is employing this strategy put forward by Mi3? “Don’t apologise in a crisis: corporate affairs have got it wrong – it's not what the market wants, will likely lead to your resignation and won't repair the brand.”

The Fun Stuff

Quote of the Week: “Having escaped the lion’s den, Mr Lehrmann made the mistake of returning for his hat.” Justice Michael Lee in his ruling against Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation claim.

📺 Campaign of the Week: Who would have thought you could enjoy watching an advertisement for a real estate listing portal? Well, you can! This campaign from Domain about the sale of Bluey’s house is a cracker. You can watch it here.

🎟️ TixSuite Launches in Australia: This week saw TixSuite launch in Australia – a brand new model providing ticketing software via subscription. Under parent company Eventfinda, TixSuite’s disruptive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) ticketing platform is ready to tear up the rulebook, with the goal of fixing the broken, outdated methods of legacy ticketing services.

Written by
Sound Story
Sound Story is Australia’s leading strategic communications consultancy for the creative industries with clients spanning music, media, advertising and technology.
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