From cultural phenomena, such as Taylor Swift and Barbenheimer, to the Matildas breaking records to holding corporations to account, the IMPACT team reflects on the top stories that captured our attention.
1. An evening with President Obama
One of IMPACT’s highlights of the year was working with Growth Faculty as they hosted President Barack Obama at two exclusive events in Sydney and Melbourne.
PR played an integral role in announcing the former POTUS’s first private speaking tour in Australia and his visit kept the team busy fielding 200+ media enquiries before the visit, and more than 100 ‘on-the-ground’ requests.
2. Taylor Swift
It was hard to ignore the brand power of Taylor Swift – even Time magazine agreed, naming her its Person of the Year for 2023. Taylor’s accomplishments include being Spotify’s most listened to artist (26.1 billion streams), and her Eras Tour concert movie debuting at number one at the US box office.
There was more than one ‘Swiftie’ in the IMPACT office among the four million Aussies who swarmed online ticketing sites to buy pre-sale tickets to Swift’s Eras Tour – not once this year, but twice!
3. Barbenheimer ruled the box office
Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ films revitalised the cinema world, broke international box office records, and created a marketing phenomenon in Barbenheimer.
When the movies announced the same release date, brands seized the opportunity to capitalise on the hype, tapping into the marketing buzz. To top it off, Barbie had the biggest American opening for a movie directed by a woman, either solo or in a duo in cinema history.
4. Matildas fever grips the nation
Australia’s word of the year is ‘Matilda’, and how fitting as that’s just one of the many records the team achieved in 2023. The semi-final match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup became the most televised event, sports or otherwise, with 11.15 million Australians tuning in. Their popularity generated $7.6 billion for the national economy, and they have become Australia’s most valuable sporting team with the worth of their brand increasing fivefold.
The cherry on top was the Matildas securing a record pay deal, making them some of the highest paid female athletes in the country, and deservedly so!
5. Corporate Australia’s reckoning
This year saw some of the nation’s biggest corporations being held accountable for their actions. Qantas faced the heat for potential misconduct around hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding COVID customer flight credits and a lawsuit from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), coinciding with the early departure of former CEO, Alan Joyce.
Optus’s recent nationwide outage that affected 10.2 million Australians generated intense criticism of the major telecommunications company’s disaster recovery plan and lack of communication with customers.
And now, Coles and Woolworths are set to face a Senate inquiry over claims of overcharging customers during a cost-of-living crisis. Both retailers have rejected the accusation, despite record profits during an era of continuous rate rises and financial strain on Australians.
6. The Voice referendum
Australia voted ‘No’ in the historic ‘Voice to Parliament’ referendum. The proposed legislation was defeated in every state and the Northern Territory, with the Australian Capital Territory the only region with a majority ‘Yes’ vote. An analysis on the discourse revealed worrying levels of misinformation and disinformation fuelled by social media, media outlets, and politicians.
7. Employee sacked following online surveillance
The fate of an Australian insurance employee, who worked from home, went viral after company surveillance showed a lack of keystroke activity on her laptop. The decision from the Fair Work Commission (FWC) sided with her employer, confirming they may rely on evidence of an employee’s cyber activity to terminate them for failing to perform work during their designated working hours.
8. Murdoch dynasty changes
Rupert Murdoch stepped down as chair of Fox and NewsCorp, ending a seven-decade run as one of the world’s most controversial media moguls. He will continue in retirement as chairman emeritus. After many publicised battles between Murdoch’s children, his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, will now be the sole chair of News Corp in addition to executive chair and chief executive of Fox.
9. Elon’s rebrand fail
Less than 12 months after Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, he stepped down as CEO and infamously rebranded from Twitter to X. The move drew mixed reviews and steep losses in ad revenue and brand equity, made worse by the billionaire’s behaviour towards advertisers and the ethical decline of the platform itself.
X was recently kicked out of Australia’s voluntary misinformation and disinformation code after removing an existing function for users to report tweets, misinformation, or disinformation during the Voice to Parliament referendum.