M&C Saatchi latches on to Localist

  • Advertising
  • December 10, 2010
  • Ben Fahy
M&C Saatchi latches on to Localist

M&C Saatchi has had a good run of it recently, picking up the NZTE account to add to the seven other pieces of new business it won during the year. And, after a competitive pitch, it has picked up some more goodies, winning the advertising and digital communication services account for NZ Post's new start-up directory service Localist.

Localist's chief executive Blair Glubb wouldn't divulge the "two or three" other agencies involved in the pitch but said all the agencies spoken to were at the smaller end of the spectrum. And he says the main differentiator between the contenders was M&C Saatchi's digital nous.

“[M&C Saatchi] are an agency that understands the power and potential of digital and social media. This combined with their expertise in brand and retail means they are able to help us develop a truly integrated campaign foundation," he says. "...They’re as excited as us about the potential of Localist, and getting that true connection to what we are trying to achieve is vital.”

Glubb, who used to work for Yellow and worked with some of the main M&C Saatchi protagonists when they were at AIM Proximity a couple of years ago, says he and the team have been working together for a month or so.  The first manifestation of that partnership, an outdoor campaign that talks its service up and sticks the boot into its competitor's offerings at the same time, went up this week and a Facebook campaign called the "Community karmabank" was launched yesterday. It will be asking fans for recommendations for businesses that deserve a hamper. Then, next year, it will again ask for suggestions, only this time as to where $20,000 should be donated.

This ability to recommend and share tips is going to be a big part of the business, he says. Perhaps as a result of the associations with social media, he says some have pegged Localist, which is kicking off in Auckland but aims to expand across the country, as "a cheap Yellow". Not surprisingly, he says that's not how they're positioning themselves. Glubb admits he has only talked generally about what it will do ("It’s a better way for businesses and consumers to connect inside communities, and share tips and opinions of what is good locally"), so there's still some confusion over what it will actually be offering. But he says this is because they're not silly enough to let all their cats out of the bag before they go to market.

He says one of the major differences between Localist and search engines like Google is that it can be, hence the name, "genuinely local and part of the community". Also, when compared to Yellow, which is currently splashing plenty of cash trying to fix its historical infrastructure and platform issues, Glubb says Localist has an advantage because it has been "built from scratch and built how it should be built". Not only that, the start-up's connection to NZ Post, the country's most trusted brand, and fellow challenger brand Kiwibank, which was awarded Bank of Year for the second year in a row, certainly won't hurt either.

"Big businesses spend a lot of time thinking about search and social media. But for smaller businesses it can be quite complicated. They're too busy running their business... We're spending a lot of time talking to small to medium sized businesses, and they're frustrated with the range of opportunities. So we're helping them understand some of the things they can do to promote their businesses."

Darryn Melrose, chief executive of M&C Saatchi, says the agency was keen to work on the account as soon as Glubb told them about it.

"It’s a great opportunity to be involved in a truly innovative start-up. They’ve gone out and spoken to Auckland businesses and actually listened. Businesses are disgruntled with what else is out there; they’re not seeing any benefit to them. Localist will be different. It’s a service that really will help businesses talk with their customers."

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