On the Record – Yaron Farizon, the new CEO of MediaCom AUNZ
AdNews caught up (virtually) with Yaron Farizon, who replaced Willie Pang as CEO of MediaCom AUNZ, to find out what keeps him awake at night.
The now former CEO of MediaCom Russia and MediaCom Connections Israel arrived in Sydney last month, went into quarantine, found a place to live within walking distance of the office, and then went into custody.
Question: In Australia we have a lot of expats and we are quite diverse, but we often don’t have a lot of Russian or Israeli colleagues joining the local industry. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from and your history with MediaCom?
Answer: I have been with MediaCom for 11 years now. I have held several positions in several markets, particularly in Europe and around the world. My professional background is rooted in planning, strategy and customer leadership, working alongside industry leaders such as P&G, Coca-Cola, MARS as well as adidas and Sony.
Moving from the countries of Israel, Russia, UK and now Australia has been an exciting journey which has helped my professional and personal discovery. I was so lucky that MediaCom supported me throughout the process. In fact, moving around is part of my DNA and part of my education; literally. Ever since my family and I first moved from Kiev (Ukraine) to Tel Aviv (Israel) when I was a teenager, I’ve been on the move ever since.
Question: You must have wanted to come to Australia because you had to quarantine yourself to get here. Why Australia?
A: I first visited Australia about five years ago and was absolutely blown away. It is a beautiful and powerful country. I never imagined that I would end up working and living here, and frankly I thought it was a crazy idea when she first came along, considering what is going on right now. But then, being pushed out of my comfort zone is always a great opportunity for growth. Australia is a well-developed market with strong capacities and vast opportunities. I love it here and going through a few weeks of quarantine and lockdown hasn’t changed my mind, nor has it dampened my excitement.
Question: What are the three things that excite you the most about your role as CEO of MediaCom AUNZ?
A: First of all, I love my job and I really love the industry I work in. Agencies are great places for people to thrive and have a career. I continually channel this passion through everything I do. Apart from that, I believe in rigor in processes and products, in developing brilliant talent and in focusing singularly on the growth of our customers.
Question: What lessons learned from your previous role can be applied here?
A: Your team is your everything.
Question: Getting to know everyone in the business (staff and customers) with a lock in place must be difficult. How is the virtual network evolving?
A: It’s going well, but it’s not as pleasant as it is in person, but I am in contact with my team, my clients and my media partners, all day, every day. There are a lot of people to meet and a lot to learn, but I love making connections.
Question: The latest SMI (Standard Media Index) figures show ad spending in Australia ahead of 2019 (pre-COVID) figures. Is this an opportunity or a hindrance (in this availability of certain media such as TV which is in a hurry)?
A: The dynamics of ad spend are generally indicative of the state of the economy and consumer sentiment, and the increase in ad spend is a positive sign and a definitive tailwind. At the same time, things have changed since 2019. We need to be proactive and alert, respond to changes in consumer behavior, realign investment priorities and develop new strategies to deal with change, working with our clients and media owners.
From MediaCom’s perspective, our customers are recovering quickly (we are ahead of the market); they want to keep the momentum going and keep building, and I think we have an incredible opportunity to continue to work closely with our media partners to continue this trajectory.
Question: What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?
A: I look forward to working with our teams to win new business, build our relationship with the industry and finally be able to travel across Australia and New Zealand.
Question: MediaCom recently unveiled its new positioning of Seeing the Bigger Picture. What does this mean to you?
A: For me, looking at the big picture is:
• Expand the value we bring to our customers
• Innovate and develop products that can help us do so
• Have a positive impact in our company and in the world
• Create a workplace where everyone can grow and realize their potential
Question: What role does GroupM play in strengthening MediaCom’s tools and capacities?
A: There is great synergy between the agencies and the group when it comes to capacity building and maximizing the productivity of our clients. We don’t sell products; we develop solutions to meet the business challenges of our customers. The agency’s tools and approaches allow us to design effective solutions, while GroupM’s automation, analytics, data and technology capabilities allow us to implement these solutions at scale, improving continually the expertise and productivity of professionalism services. With the power of GroupM, you get more than an agency.
Question: Based on your initial conversations with MediaCom customers in Australia, is what customers want here different from other markets or is it the same?
A: Much of what keeps our customers from sleeping at night is similar, they want to know how to best ensure continued business growth for their brand. When it comes to the style of communication, customers in Australia (and people in general) are open, friendly and direct, and I love it!
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