Carat chief Ryan says agency ‘redefining media buying’ in Oz ahead of expansion

Carat chief Ryan says agency ‘redefining media buying’ in Oz ahead of expansion

EXCLUSIVE: The newly installed CEO of Carat in Australia and New Zealand has fired a shot across the bows of the heavy hitters in Australian media buying by stating the agency is intent on becoming number one.

Simon Ryan, who last month took over the reins after four years running Carat’s Melbourne operation, revealed to B&T that the agency is set for a major expansion in the next four to six months.

This will include the relaunch of its Sydney office and establishing a Carat offering in Brisbane, which is expected to see the agency add over 100 staff to its current 290 headcount nationally.

“We’re going to be very aggressive in the Sydney market,” said Ryan.

"Our Melbourne office has several massive clients (Kraft/Mondelez, Holden, L’Oreal), which has see it grow from 34 people and $120 million in billings to now 116 people and $380 million in billings. The plan is to evolve that success into other markets.

The recent L’Oreal win worth $30m represents a major chunk of Carat’s more than $42.5m in new business in the past year, with billings up 60%. Other wins in 2013 include Murray Goulburn/Danone, McCain, GoPro, Quicksales, Australian Super.

The first move for Carat will be to establish an operation in Brisbane, followed by a major facelift in Sydney, where Ryan confirmed that the agency is the process of recruiting some “pretty powerful” industry figures for the relaunch.

"What you’ll see in the next four to six months is Carat making a powerful stance nationally, to build an agency doing over $1 billion in turnover," he said.

Ryan also spoke bullishly about how Carat is "redefining the way media should be planned and bought in this country”.

He said in the current climate clients are finding it hard to get a return, stating he believes that some of Carat’s competitors are taking media spend for granted.

"Clients are finding it hard, some media spends are retracting," he said.

"What we’re bringing to our big clients is a lot of ROI metrics, a lot of metric modelling, liner modelling tools, multi-screening strategies … different approaches to way they should be looking at media," he added.

Ryan believes some of his competitors are not applying themselves as well as his agency, which means they’re finding it harder in the market to keep pace with the changes happening.

“We as media agencies need to be educating clients on how to redefine media to get them the best result,” he said.

“I think there're some competitors out there who are redefining the way media should be strategised, planned and bought to get a result for the client.

"However, some are taking media spend for granted and hoping for the best.

"What Carat is trying to do is redefine the application of the money to make sure there’s enough ROIs return to the client’s bottom line. The big challenge for the industry is keeping media spends where they are, making sure they're not proliferating into other areas," said Ryan.

Meanwhile, when asked whether he had eyes on one day filling the sizable shoes of the now retired former head of Aegis Media, Harold Mitchell, Ryan said his focus is on leading Carat in ANZ for the foreseeable future, but added that eventually given the chance he “would love to.”

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