Thank you for the memories, signing off with Brendon Cook
As we sign off 2020 and put the events of the year behind us, we take time to reflect on some of the good that has come out of the year, plus what 2021 has in store for our one and only Brendon Cook.
After 41 years’ service, and building Australia’s leading Out of Home media business from the ground up, Brendon departs oOh!media in 2020. He leaves behind a legacy like no other and a business poised for continued success.
Here we take a moment to immerse you in a little bit of Out of Home history and brand building stories from the last 31 years with ‘Mr Billboards’ himself.
First things first, your final year with oOh! has been like no other. Can you tell us about one of your highlights for 2020?
Brendon – This year has been one of rapid change, and it’s fair to say we’ve probably all learnt more in the space of 2020 than we have before. We’ve also been challenged more than ever.
Through this pandemic-inspired storm, I think many have found a silver lining. The way that our teams and business have adapted during this time is a key highlight for me. Each and every individual has been impacted by the challenges, and they have all needed to adjust to these challenges which, to be fair, no-one asked for. The climate was changing very rapidly throughout the year, and business units across Australia and New Zealand were responding to these changes and challenges on a weekly basis.
These teams showed true resilience, and I’m proud of the way they accepted what was happening, while adapting and sticking together so we could all move forward.
The resilience that has been demonstrated by people across the business has been phenomenal.
Based on your 41+ year’s experience, what’s been the biggest change that you’ve seen in Out of Home?
Brendon – There are three key changes from my point of view. One of them is more of a generational shift from the key operators in the industry. During my first years, the perception was the industry was run by a bunch of cowboys, which is far from correct, but there it was and we had to do something about it. The changes we made were quite tangible in the mid to late 90s, and involved a lot of work to shift perceptions.
The second relates to scale and the digital revolution. When digital got to a point where technology, product, and the ability for everyone to build out scaled networks were all in place, this was clearly a massive change for our industry that created numerous opportunities for creativity and commercial growth.
The third biggest change is the one that I’m going to miss, which will be when the technology enablement challenges that everyone is currently experiencing have been resolved. Just like online, we have things to work through that will take time. There’s a process, first through the established methods of buying by product or category, and next through automation for efficiency, before we get to programmatic. Once this is all seamlessly done in the next two to three years, I expect the industry will go through another growth spurt.
What trends do you predict in both Out of Home and consumer behaviour in 2021?
Brendon – The impacts of COVID have been felt far and wide, by every individual across the globe.
We all know the media sector has taken a significant hit, including Out of Home , but the process of adaptation and response has accelerated changes in the industry that might have happened anyway over a longer timeframe.
A key one, and a big change for Out of Home, is that suburbs will be valued again. We’ve all had a taste of what workplace flexibility could look like, and there is a possibility that some people will continue with these new behaviours involving working flexibly, as well as new entertainment options and living arrangements.
This is where audience data and insight plays a key role in targeting Australians based on this ongoing shift in behaviour and the scale of Out of Home.
While the suburbs become a clear point of focus, this will have implications for commercial development discussions as people adapt over the next five years and beyond. We’re definitely going to see a shift.
This is where I look to Street Furniture, for example. An ongoing challenge is the way that advertisers are accustomed to buying from the CBD outwards, but with COVID has come a shift to buying from the suburbs inwards. It’s been quite a task to get people to think differently, but they now are, and this will deliver long-term benefits to the business and the industry as it adds more value to inventories outside of CBDs.
As you step out of oOh!’s world of unmissable, what are you looking forward to most over the next year?
Brendon – This is an interesting one… being locked in Australia is actually looking like a positive because it will allow for long weekends and exploring the countryside, which I am really looking forward to.
I’m excited about the prospect of consulting for the team at oOh! and Cathy where required, as well as being on some advisory boards that I’ve been approached about. At the moment these are all yet to be announced but stay tuned for more in due course.
I’m also going to try to really detox and clear the mind, with less of the intensity of running a business. I’d like to focus more on finding some balance in life. I don’t know how quickly I’ll find it – but you know that I’ll be trying.
I could do with a detox from technology, time to focus on what’s going on in the world, what opportunities there are, and so on.
How to do this, I’m not really sure yet as it’s a real change for me after all these years, but like the business, I will adapt too.
To wrap us up, can you tell us what Christmas festivities will look like this year in the Cook household? What’s on the Christmas list?
Brendon – We have the Cook side of the family pre-Christmas, then I’ll be over at my sister-in-law’s place. In between I’ll be catching up with a lot of people. Fair to say that Christmas celebrations this year are also going to be extended a little bit longer.
When it comes to presents, I don’t have much of a wish list this year. I won’t be surprised if my wife does a wardrobe overhaul for me this Christmas. I’ll probably be playing more golf next year, so no doubt golf balls will also be on the list too… absolutely no complaints there.
As for after Christmas, I’ll be swapping international travel plans for regional travel next year with a road trip between Sydney and Victoria.
Signing off, do you have any final words …
Out of Home is an exciting place to work, but more importantly, the next 10 years will be the most exciting, the most fast -paced, and most interesting for our medium and your careers.
Thank you all for all the memories
See you at the Rag and Famish