SYDNEY: Innovation/creativity, leadership and business integrity are considered by clients to be the three strongest reputation drivers for Australian marketing, a major industry study has found, but agencies place less emphasis on leadership.

While agency respondents also place business integrity and innovation/creativity in the top three 'reputation drivers', only 4.8% cited leadership compared with 21.8% of clients, who rated leadership as the second most important component.

Findings from the Industry Reputation Study 2013, which was conducted by the Communications Council and the Media Federation of Australia (MFA), were presented at an event organised by the Australian Association of National Advertisers, Campaign Brief reported.

Covering three key audiences – client CMOs and CEOs, agency CEOs and the general population – the study also found that, while the industry has a strong reputation amongst clients, its reputation amongst the general population is relatively poor.

The Australian public gave the industry a similar ranking to the insurance industry, allocating it an overall reputation score of 53.7 and placing it five points behind the mining industry. Its unenthusiastic assessment was based on services provided by the industry and its overall governance.

More positively, business integrity and governance emerged as a common driver for both clients and agencies and, with clients registering strong perceptions of the industry's innovation and leadership skills, the report concluded that the industry should focus on these key areas.

Sudeep Gohil, chairman of the Communications Council and CEO of agency Droga5, urged the industry to place more emphasis on leadership and strategic insight, which remains a core issue for clients, while also developing its strengths in creativity and innovation.

"Feedback has been extremely positive, with creativity and innovation highlighted as core strengths," he said. "Developing these strengths is equally important in retaining or building a positive reputation."

In other findings, collaboration – particularly between creative, media and digital agencies – also emerged as an area that clients would like to see improved.

Henry Tajer, chairman of the MFA and executive chairman of IPG Mediabrands, called on agencies to be more "proactive" about meeting client expectations, explaining that "fragmentation of channels and connections has brought a greater need for agencies to work collaboratively".

Data sourced from Campaign Brief, The Communications Council and Media Federation of Australia; additional content by Warc staff