Melissa Mullins is the bridge between clients and content creators at Nine. As the director of strategy of the company’s client solutions division, 9Powered, her job is to ensure that a client’s brand message is served to the audience in the best way possible using Nine’s assets such as TV (Channel 9, 9GO!, 9Life and 9Gem) and digital (nine.com.au, 9Honey).
Prior to joining Nine in 2016, Mullins worked on the agency side of the media industry. She has worked with some of the biggest agencies in the country such as Initiative, OMD and UM.
“Coming to Nine wasn’t overwhelming,” Mullins told Mediaweek. “What was exciting was that we have a big range of content, so you do feel you can apply strategic thinking to it. You have to be able to do that. For example, why would you advertise on The Block over Buying Blind? You need to have a strategic rationale for that. It’s not about putting forward whatever we want to sell.
“The challenge about working at Nine is that we work with so many people – executive producers, editors via our content partnerships team, branded production team, trade marketing, agencies and brands too. However, when it comes to content strategy, it’s very similar to what I have done in the past.”
Mullins used Nine’s work with Victoria Bitter to create the VB hard work index as an example of how it can convey a brand message in a subtle way to the audience in a suited context. The index is a live in-game NRL metric that gives insights on how a player is performing. It calculates how hard a player is working on the field by taking things such as number of tackles made and minutes played into account. The hard work index ties in with Victoria Bitter’s “hard earned thirst” slogan. “That’s something that has never been done before. I got an opportunity to create that,” Mullins said.
Consumers have more choices than ever before, and with this they have been exposed to more advertising in different shapes and forms. In such an environment, how does Nine ensure that its clients’ brand messages don’t fall on deaf ears? “Audiences love our content. That’s what they come to us for, day in and day out,” Mullins said. “If we can find ways to connect brands meaningfully within that content then audiences will be receptive to those messages.
“For example, viewers love the behind-the-scenes content from The Block. If that’s brought to you by a brand, which is championing that piece of content, then audiences will thank you for that. They won’t turn away from you.”
Mullins is one of the creators of 9Powered’s pop-up store on Oxford Street in Sydney, called The Big Ideas Store. The two-week exercise aims to give clients a behind-the-scenes look at the tools used by the division and how they work.
It’s been eight years since 9Powered launched. According to Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson there has never been a better time to show clients how 9Powered really works and what it can do for them. He told Mediaweek: “We are in a space now where we have a lot of great content that is distributed on multiple platforms. We are at a point in time in our industry where it’s never been more important for brands to connect with their audiences through premium content environments that will help them tell their story in a brand-safe and innovative way, which help deliver real business outcomes.
“We are also at that time of the year where brands and agencies are in the planning cycle and are getting ready for what 2019 will look like. We will be here to guide them through that journey.”
Top photo: Melissa Mullins