Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has enlisted the services of Australian digital and social media specialists Razorfish Amnesia following a review of its digital marketing strategy. But no-one from either party wants to talk about the new relationship, what the relationship will entail, what the job is, how much the budget is or who else was asked to pitch.
We asked for clarity from Sue Allen, the acting general manager of corporate communications at TNZ, who replied with this vague email, which was attributed to chief executive Kevin Bowler.
“Tourism New Zealand is working with Razorfish on a one-off project as part of TNZ’s review of its marketing strategy. Four agencies pitched for the work and Razorfish was successful. Some other discreet [sic] work projects have developed from this and we will work with Razorfish on a project-by-project basis.”
Forgetting the different and, in this case, perhaps slightly ironic, definitions of discreet (secretive) and discrete (one-off), we asked a few more questions after receiving the initial statement: "What was the project that Razorfish Amnesia originally won? What other agencies pitched for the work? What kind of budget are we talking about? What kind of work will Razorfish Amnesia be doing in the future? What will it be focusing on? What do you mean by 'discreet work projects' and are these 'discreet work projects' up for pitch by NZ agencies? Will it affect the work being done for TNZ by other agencies?"
In response to all of these questions, Allen, who admitted she wasn't close to the project, said: "Basically, we don't have anything else to say."
She didn't think there was anything fishy going on, however, and assumed the relationship with Razorfish Amnesia would be an on-going one. StopPress asked for an interview with Bowler to clear the whole thing up, but Allen said it would be "a bit tricky" because of his very full diary.
Razorfish Amnesia, which won the Adnews interactive agency of the year for the third consecutive year recently, has also taken the silent approach. Typically, winning work like this would be trumpeted by an agency. But its managing director and business development contact failed to return calls (social media types always seem to be the hardest to get hold of when using these antiquated technologies). But they must have got our call because, through its PR agency, it said: "I recommend that you call Tourism New Zealand as Amnesia Razorfish is not in a position to comment."
So there you have it: when the government is spending your money on projects you are not allowed to know about, using a process that’s murky or at least ‘discreet’, with an Australian company that refuses to talk, clearly there’s nothing to report.
Watch this space.