Fast 10: AANA’s Josh Faulks On Christmas Presents, Exercise & Ad Bans

Fast 10: AANA’s Josh Faulks On Christmas Presents, Exercise & Ad Bans

Josh Faulks became the CEO of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) just over a year ago. Since then, it has been non-stop for Faulks as the industry takes on some of its biggest challenges to date. Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham, managed to grab a slice of Faulks’ time to ask him 10 very fast questions about the year just gone and the year to come.

1. You’ve had a cracker of a year at the AANA what’s been your highlight? 

The big highlight for 2023 for me and what keeps me energised, was the reaction from our members and the impact we had on the industry from all the hard work the team put in across so many great initiatives and events. It is great to see we are making such a positive difference to the industry.

2. At your In-Flight event recently you mentioned that the AANA had added a slew of new members, which brands have joined and what is driving the new member growth? 

We’ve had 13 members join this year in one of the biggest growth spurts in our 95-year history.

I think what is driving that growth is a realisation that we need to come together to promote and defend the industry in the face of growing criticism and regulatory threats. The industry needs a loud and strong voice advocating on their behalf, and that’s what we have been doing — getting out there and talking up the industry with the Advertising Pays report, for example, and advocating hard on the issues that matter most to our members such as ad bans, environmental claims and privacy).

We have also had a laser focus on making sure we deliver value to our members and I think that is cutting through.

3. With so much happening in your role, how do you juggle the constant onslaught?

I am becoming increasingly brutal about prioritisation. If it doesn’t align with our strategic objectives and deliver value to our members, then it quickly falls down the list into obscurity. Also, I’ve discovered I need exercise, meditation and yoga to keep me relatively sane.

4. I’ve been privileged to be involved with the AANA for many years, how are you future-proofing the Association? 

We have some big plans for the future of AANA that I can’t disclose just yet (the suspense!). But, to guarantee our future and success, I think AANA needs to do three things well: deliver tangible benefits to our members; be relevant and focus on the issues that matter most to our members; and help build a better industry – whether that’s better advertising, better marketing, better self-regulation, better sustainability or better diversity.

5. What is your top priority around self-regulation for next year? 

I think the regulatory pressure on our industry from governments around the country will intensify in 2024. The industry will need to come together to protect and promote our world-class self-regulatory system.

Our focus next year will be defending against proposals for the banning of advertising of unhealthy food and beverages, creating certainty and trust around environment claims, and making sure we get the balance right with privacy reform.

6. All the industry associations seem more collaborative than previous, how has that evolved? 

This one is easy. United our voice is stronger and we can achieve so much more. We align on most issues, so it is easy – and more effective – to advocate together if we can. And, the CEOs are just genuinely lovely people and we get on well.

7.  I think the AANA is 99 years old. How are you going to celebrate 100? 

We are actually 95 this year – which is unbelievable. I think that demonstrates that the industry has always needed a loud and strong voice advocating on its behalf. Ask me in a few years about our 100th birthday, but I promise it will go off with a bang!

8. With current economic headwinds, what are marketers’ major challenges? 

It has been a tough year for our industry and the consensus is 2024 will be weak with a period of low growth fuelled by higher-for-longer interest rates – despite the RBA putting them on hold in December. Consumer confidence is low. Spending is volatile. The cost of doing business continues to climb.

For business that means looking for ways to cut costs. For marketers, that means more pressure on marketing budgets and more pressure on CMOs to demonstrate the return on marketing investment. So, I suspect marketing effectiveness, measurement and ROI will be major focuses in 2024.

9. What could Santa bring AANA members that would surprise and delight them?

A little boost in consumer confidence for the Christmas shopping season and a bloody good break!

10. Besides your fitness objectives, do you have any New Year’s resolutions? 

Create space for a balanced life with time for myself, as well as plenty of time for my partner, family and friends – the secret to happiness!

I also want to make a difference this year (with the industry) on the big issues such as sustainability.

Check out the other instalments in the Fast 10 series here:

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AANA Fast 10 Josh Faulks

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