Part Two of our AMI interview: what is its role?

Marketing and AMI chair Darren Woolley discuss the role of the professional organisation and his agenda for 2015.


This is the second part of a conversation between Marketing editor Peter Roper and the new chair of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI), Darren Woolley, on recent developments in the organisation.

In part one, Woolley explained that the $99 ‘Service Enhancement Levy’ – that all members have been asked to pay on top of their membership fees – was due to the organisation being due to unforeseen one-off costs, such as a CEO payout and the addition of professional indemnity insurance.


Marketing: The AMI’s struggles raise a curious point, the difference between it and the CPA in selling themselves to business stakeholders. Given that the AMI and it’s troubles, or challenges now, are based on best intentions but perhaps not operating like a corporation would – do you think that’s indicative of the skill gaps that marketers have as well, in financial acumen?

Darren Woolley: I’m not sure. There’s a lot of fine marketers that are very savvy with reading a balance sheet and reading a P&L.

I think that perhaps it’s just really the focus of the AMI, as I said, all the way along there’s been the right intention. This is an organisation that’s been going for over 80 years. It is the oldest and it’s also the only organisation in Australia that is about career development for marketers. It’s a professional organisation – it’s not a particular category body like ADMA, it’s not a trade body like the AANA – it’s actually a professional development and a professional association for marketers.

I think the challenges have changed over the 80 years, and so what we have now is a board and an executive, and all the changes that were put in place last year to bring around a new way of electing board members, has actually brought that focus to the strategy to move it forward.

I’m not sure it’s indicative of any particular trend other than the changes in the industry that have happened for marketing. Maybe it was fine to be a club for marketers in the past?

Maybe the intention was that club was about sharing ideas and developing the profession, and things like that, but now there’s definitely a commercial need in the industry for us to be promoting marketing, not just to marketers, but to all stakeholders.

I talk to members and they’re frustrated when they get job applications they see, and they’re asked, ‘Do they have Photoshop and Illustrator skills’, for a marketing manager role.

That’s a fundamental example that there are many people out there in business and industry that do not understand the role of marketing.


M: The AANA has made some moves, for example Marketing Dividends, which has that exact purpose. Is it just a process where more needs to be done to educate?

DW: Yeah, and the AANA is doing some terrific work in raising awareness about marketing. I think that the marketing dividends program’s fantastic. Their role is, as a trade body for major advertisers. Their memberships are major advertisers, and marketing is more than advertising, marketing is also product development, and pricing, and distribution, and customer experience, and all of these things.

That’s where the AMI needs to be in a position where we can partner with all of our other association partners, the AANA, ADMA, the MFA, and really be there to champion all aspects of marketing, including people like the sales people. Every aspect of marketing.

I was meeting with a client who had his team there and the agency team. I was there on TrinityP3 business, but I started talking about the AMI, and I saw the agency people look away. I said, “Hang on, you’re marketers too. You work in advertising. You have as much right and as much reason to be members of the AMI, and work to get the designation CPM.”

Imagine, as an agency person, sitting opposite a marketer, both with that designation, that proves that you have a commitment to developing yourselves in this profession. Suddenly all the agency people went, “Oh, yeah, I hadn’t thought of that.”


M: I don’t think a lot would have.

DW: No, because the AMI has been very good at focusing on marketers in possibly a narrower sense than it should be.

But the world’s changed. Marketing doesn’t just sit within marketing departments anymore.


READ: Part One of our interview with Darren Woolley, in which we ask him to explain the ‘Service Enhancement Levy’ sprung on members »


Are you a member of the AMI? Let us know your thoughts on the levy and the AMI’s role in the comments.


Peter Roper
BY Peter Roper ON 12 February 2015
Editor of Marketing. Tweets as @pete_arrr.
  • Steve

    The AMI has lost its relevancy (to both members and industry) and they simply don’t know it, or are still in denial. Marketing has transformed in the past 10 years and their members no longer benefit. They’ve had their chance at glory and have now missed the boat. It’s a different world out there.

  • Tony Spagoni

    You don’t have to look to hard for “peak bodies” in the marketing, advertising and communications sector. They’re as thick on the ground as ants around the proverbial honeypot.

    • The Communications Council (marketing agencies)
    • Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA = data-driven advertising)
    • Digital Industry Association of Australia (AIMIA = digital content)
    • Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA = digital delivery)
    • Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA = advertisers)
    • Australian Association of Social Marketing (AASM = social)
    • Media Federation of Australia (MFA = media communication companies)
    • Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA = graphic design)
    • Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB = standards)
    • Communications Alliance (internet industry)
    • Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS = marketing research)
    • NGEN (Next generation young marketing talent)
    • Exhibition and Event Association of Australia (EEAA = events and event marketing)
    • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB = interactive advertising)
    • Free TV Australia (ftatv = commercial free-to-air television licencees)
    • Outdoor Media Association (OTA = Out of Home)
    • Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association (AWARD = CDs and ADs)
    • Design Institute of Australia (DIA = design)
    • Centre for Corporate and Public Affairs (accpa = corporate public affairs)
    • Asia-Pacific Professional Services Marketing Association (APSMA = professional services marketing)
    • Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA = public relations and communication professionals)

    In an industry that is shifting and changing every single day the idea of a generalist entity being the voice of a sector full of specialists doesn’t quite add up. I do concur that AMI “appears” to have a stronger strategic focus now but they’ve also had a pretty good run at it. Too little too late methinks.

    If you are looking around at industry peak bodies and what they’ll do for you I’d still have to ask, who are you going to call? It really is all about focus. With that in mind my money is definitely not on the AMI.