PHD's Mark Holden enjoys the Aussies' energy

Mark Holden is managing partner of PHD Australia.

Sydney: like London, but smaller
Sydney: like London, but smaller

I moved to Sydney for family reasons. My Australian wife has a large Greek "mafia" family - starting a family 11,000 miles away from them didn't seem like a good idea.

Media environment
Similar to London, but smaller - media spend is one third of that in the UK. However, the major media agencies still have 200-plus employees and industry awards events are huge. Coming to Sydney is like returning to work after an accident where you have lost your short-term memory - you know how to use your PC, phone and mouth, but all the content, names and faces are completely new.

Media owners
Media owners are not as creatively developed here and there are fewer strategic planners on the media owner side to take briefs. However, this is changing.

At 12% of total advertising spend, digital share is a little behind the UK. This is because Australia took a year or two longer to get behind the internet, but it is catching up fast. Broadband penetration is strong - currently 55% and expected to reach 76% by 2012 (source: eMarketer).

Culture and social scene
There are distinctly fewer media owner lunches, but there seems to be slightly more inter-agency socialising. And Christmas parties happen at beach houses.

Main differences
The overall difference is that of quality. However, that says less about Australia and more about the UK, as the UK is probably the most advanced media market in the world (if you take an aggregate view of the media infrastructure, quality of content, research, planning systems and talent).

One thing we can learn from Australia?
People seem to have a slightly more energetic disposition. I was genuinely surprised at how hard people work and socialise in Sydney. UVA and UVB may be the cause. This is an intangible but significant difference.

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