B&T’s Best Of The Best Media Agency Rainmakers, Presented By Finecast, Part Of GroupM Nexus

B&T’s Best Of The Best Media Agency Rainmakers, Presented By Finecast, Part Of GroupM Nexus

In B&T’s ongoing pursuit to name and recognise the best in Australia’s advertising and marketing communities, today we turn our attention to media agencies, namely the unsung staffers who do the pitch hard years and bring in the big bucks.

As a confession, we stumbled about what to even call the category. Commercial directors or business development managers sounded both boring, wrong and contrived. Instead, we settled on agency rainmakers – the people that make it rain loot for both the agency and their clients.

Where possible, we’ve also tried to promote the often unsung heroes of the agency that perhaps don’t get the spotlight and the accolades of their more prominent bosses.

And, look, don’t think for a minute this wasn’t a difficult task to whittle down to the final 10 and overall number one. Sadly, plenty of very deserved names got culled along the way.

Every week on B&T, we take a different role within adland and tell you who are the 10 Best of the Best at it. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be revealing the best people in these disciplines: Recruiter, Public Relations – Consumer, Strategist – Media, Project Manager, Mentor, Developer, Casting Director, Industry Association Chief, Experiential Producer, Social Change Maker, Journalist, HR, Planning Director – Media, and Marketer.

But for now, it’s adland’s top 10 media agency rainmakers. Count ’em down…

10. Clare Fenner – CEO, Atomic 212°
Amid innumerable claims to be the “hottest indie in Australia”, the team at Atomic 212° are one agency that could justifiably lay claim to the title. Much of the agency’s success is due to Fenner who, in February, was rewarded for a decade of loyal service with elevation to agency CEO. Over the past 12 months the agency has  boasted a cool $100 million in billings and wins that included Ponant, Entain Australia, Aware Super, Craveable Brands, Freedom Kitchens and Price Attack, as well as retaining Origin Energy, Bupa and Beyond blue.

9. Joe Frazer – Managing partner, Half Dome 

When B&T was scouting industry brains for nominees for today’s list, virtually all those in the know offered up Half Dome’s Frazer as a deserved candidate. Frazer co-founded the bubbling agency back in 2017 and, to put words in his mouth, its success is undoubtedly down to a collaborative effort from a very dedicated team (namely business partners Will Harms and brother Tom). When not polishing his and the agency’s innumerable industry award trophies (that, it would be remiss to say, includes a listing on The AFR’s 2022 Best Places To Work), Frazer has championed the agency’s unlimited paid annual leave initiative. A self confessed proud “indie”, Half Dome’s 65-person strong agency represents clients in Melbourne, Sydney, Geelong and Ballarat across full-service media planning and buying, SEO, and performance creative production.

8. Pia Coyle – Managing director, PHD Sydney

In just six short months in the PHD Sydney MD’s chair, Coyle has established herself as a proven rainmaker among the Omnicom group. Coyle joined from independent media agency Avenue C and prior to that had held several senior roles across the industry, leading the client and investment offerings at Ikon and working at both UM and Starcom. Up until March, Coyle was also chair of the MFA Outdoor Futures Council. On her philosophy to media she says: “Amplification and trading are key elements of any media agency. We sprinkle the magic dust on the strategy and deliver on the dream. I believe trading is strategic and should be optimised to deliver best in class work and most importantly, smash client KPI’s.”

7. Jimmy Hyett – CEO & Founder, This Is Flow  

Young, funky and tech-inspired, Hyett and his agency, This Is Flow, make the list purely on their cool credentials alone. Hyett – a previous B&T 30 Under 30 winner – started the indie agency back in 2015, having cut his teeth at the likes of MediaCom and Virginia Hyland’s Hyland. Along the way, Hyett and team have been at the pointy end of practically every industry award possible including a finalist in last year’s B&T Indie Agency Of The Year, while the agency was named one of Australia’s Best Places To Work in the same year. Recent business wins include A2 Milk, AirAsia and Rockface that saw the team go north of 40 employees.

6. Peter Vogel – CEO, Wavemaker ANZ

Arguably the current star of the GroupM stable is the goodly Wavemaker all under the stewardship of adland stalwart and good guy, Peter Vogel. The South-African-born Vogel has been CEO of the Aussie ops since WPP merged MEC and Maxus back in early 2018 and, under his stewardship, has seen Wavemaker become  the only agency network with an office in every metro state in Australia, and Auckland, too. Boasting long-time international brands such as Mondelez and Audible on the Wavemaker books, Vogel can also claim a number of new business wins including Australia Post, Henkel, Danone, DoorDash, Netflix and L’Oréal. Vogel was an early champion of influencer marketing and redefining its role within media agencies; so much so influencer marketing is now the agency’s fastest-growing product.

5. Virginia Hyland – CEO, Havas Media Network

Is there a nicer, more professional, more knowledgeable human in Australian media than Virginia Hyland? B&T very much doubts the fact. When her eponymous agency Hyland was acquired by Havas in 2020 many assumed it would be golf and long lunches for the former agency supremo. Not so, as Hyland took the media reins of arguably Australia’s most inconspicuous holding company, Havas. A regular fixture on B&T’s annual Women In Media power list, Hyland posted 17th position in 2022’s outing. In a recent chat with B&T, Hyland said: “Every day when I wake up, I ask myself the question: What can I do today that is going to count the most and make the greatest difference to my team, our clients and the industry more broadly?” In March, Hyland was named deputy chair of industry body the Media Federation of Australia (MFA).

4. Nick Keenan – CEO, Starcom 

Publicis’ Spark Foundry often gets the press but arguably it is its sister agency Starcom that’s been the quiet achiever of the group of late. Under the stewardship of former Red Rooster CEO Nick Keenan, who’s been in the Starcom chair since mid-2020, the agency’s retained and won some significant business including snaring the $41 million TPG account away from Wavemaker in early August and retaining both the Proctor & Gamble and Bega Group accounts. Other big names on the Starcom books include Lion, Visa and Metcash. Keenan, who also sits on the MFA board, also gets bonus points as his LinkedIn profile also names him as “primary producer and optimistic truffle farmer”.

3. Lyndelle and Chris O’Keefe – Co-CEOs, Match & Wood

In one huge tick for the indies, Melbourne-based Match & Wood has fast become one of Australia’s most dynamic media agencies. Launched by husband-and-wife team Lyndelle and Chris O’Keefe back in 2017, the agency provides a full suite of media strategy, planning and buying services across digital and traditional channels via offices in Melbourne and Perth. Prior to going out on their own, Lyndelle was strategy director at Initiative, while Chris was managing director of UM. Recent client wins for the agency include Catch.com.au, Snooze, Peet Limited, Chobani, Curtin University and Summit Homes Group.

2. Sam Geer – Managing director, Initiative
Arguably the hottest media agency in the land right now is B&T’s incumbent media agency of the year, Initiative. As its CEO, the mercurial Melissa Fein, rightly wins the garlands and makes the acceptance speeches, it’s her loyal MD in Geer that’s the mover and shaker when it comes to winning the pitches and the business. Greer is an eight-year IPG veteran, with four years at Initiative and, prior to that, four years at sister agency UM. In 2022, under the Fein-Geer stewardship, Initiative billed $260 million in new and retained pitches, diversified its revenue by 21.4 per cent and reported that an impressive 98.6 per cent of its staff were proud to work there.

1. Danny Bass – CEO, Dentsu Media ANZ
When Bass mysteriously disappeared from IPG in late 2019, only to be later discovered running a corporate wellness retreat in western Sydney, it was assumed the seasoned media veteran had been lost to adland for good. Not so! Bass proved just the man to fill Dentsu Media’s CEO chair following Sue Squillace’s departure, Bass returning in August last year to whip Carat, iProspect and dentsu X agencies into shape. After a turbulent few years that saw senior staff departing quicker than the clients, the Dentsu ship appears to have thoroughly righted itself with Bass heading media and the irrepressible Kirsty Muddle leading the agency’s creative side of things.





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