SCA’s Nikki Clarkson debuts on list of top 50 Aussie marketers

Staff Writer

Nikki Clarkson, the top marketer at Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), has debuted in the CMO50 – a list compiled by CMO magazine which aspires to reveal the country’s best marketers.

The list has been running for six years, and – via an entry process – seeks to recognise the “work done by Australia’s most effective and innovative marketing leaders”.

The list ranks the top 25, with those placing 26 to 50 then being listed alphabetically.

Clarkson placed in the 26 to 50 section.

Her profile in CMO notes she had to contend with COVID-19 misconceptions, including that with less commuting in 2020, radio was no longer reaching mass audiences. She also had to face-off with assumptions from clients and agencies that without the regular GfK ratings, there was no way to measure audience size and engagement.

“Radio streaming was up, radio catchup show podcasts were up and original podcast listening was at an all-time high,” Clarkson told CMO. “Trade advertising was booked with fun but relevant messaging and all new sales collateral, fact sheets, newsletters, educative webinar events were conducted. Clients responded immediately and briefs started coming back,” she said of how she counteracted the misconceptions.

On the consumer-facing side, CMO also credits Clarkson with delivering Triple M’s new strategy aimed at delivering growth and brand engagement.

“The Triple M Network operates in a highly competitive FM radio category with 48 stations nationally,” Clarkson said. “Our task was to leverage its relevancy and unique 40-year heritage, broaden its appeal to a bigger Generation X audience, and achieve 10% growth in 12 months.”

And then, of course, there is the Hit Network, or ‘Hit Grows Up’, aimed at widening the network’s appeal.

Clarkson said SCA’s marketing function of 30 people started from scratch on the new strategy.

“The strategy needed to be clear and concise and consider the challenges around developing a strategy that was contemporary and sophisticated to meet the audience insights we understood as well as ‘bring back’ two 40 year-old radio brands in a meaningful way,” she said in reference to the resurrection of Brisbane’s B105 and Adelaide’s SAFM brands.

CMO and SCA publicity also flagged Clarkson’s branded podcast Brand New World which was hosted by now 3AW host Russel Howcroft.

Clarkson thanked the team around her for the win.

“I’m honoured to be included among the amazing company of the top 50 marketers in Australia. I’d like to call out my hard-working, talented and resilient team at SCA. Similarly, I would like to acknowledge our chief content officer, Dave Cameron, who worked closely with me on the Triple M and Hit new branding and his involvement, and that of the team, was invaluable. We have achieved some of the most creative and effective thinking during what has been an uncertain and challenging year,” she said via an SCA press release.

This year’s list was topped by the ABC’s director of audiences, Leisa Bacon, who placed second last year. The ABC marketing function had 170 staff.

Bacon told CMO that its traditional media assets had had a good year, but this may not be sustainable.

“We’ve needed reliable news, more entertainment than ever, good radio as a companion. So from a business perspective, we have seen audiences come back on what were declining trends,” Bacon said.

“For example, our TV network grew this year. As most know, TV has been in decline for the last five years from a total reach perspective, but we grew this year. Radio also grew this year.

“So people have come back to traditional media. But I don’t believe it’s sustainable. It’s very driven by news, more people at home with more time wanting to know what is going on. But it’s been a good reminder to people of why there is a public broadcaster, the value of trusted views, the value we place on kids and education content.”

CMO publisher and editor, Nadia Cameron, praised all the people on the list.

“Our final 50 is an incredible portfolio of marketing achievement, and every one of those who have made it onto this year’s list should be applauded for their commitment to taking this profession forward through excellent work and leadership,” she said.

“Every CMO showed their commitment to brand building, cross-functional collaboration, fostering resiliency in their teams, adapting to suit their customer, striving for more innovative marketing programs, and a desire to pursue growth by being the customer champion.”

Last year, Australian Radio Network’s CMO Anthony Xydis made the list, however he has since left his position.

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