Both Pat Murray, EECA's manager of marketing and communications, and Ogilvy's executive director Paul Manning confirmed Ogilvy had won the account, but couldn't comment further as they are still in contract negotiations. But it's fair to say a big reason for the retention was the expertise the agency had gained over the past few years and the success of its recent work, especially The Energy Spot, which has seen The Almighty Johnsons star Jared Turner trying to instil the benefits of energy conservation for New Zealand businesses and individuals.
While the educational, non-threatening brand spokesperson approach (well-parodied in Sky's digital switchover ad) was polarising, the campaign, which focused on case studies and also gave tips on how to save money through things like more efficient fuel consumption, better lighting, minimised hot water wastage, appropriate heating or insulation as part of the Green Party's successful Warm Up New Zealand scheme, successfully simplified what are often confusing messages by explaining things in visual terms.
Of course, there are pros and cons to the arbitrary government pitching (EECA contracts are renewed every three years, while the Auckland Council, which Ogilvy retained after a fairly controversial pitch last year, is thought to be on a longer contract). Ogilvy was obviously doing a good job, so questions will no doubt be raised about whether a pitch was required, whether EECA's mind was made up beforehand, and whether or not these circumstances make it worth the time, money and effort for competing agencies to pitch. Those are all things the competing agencies have to weigh up, as DraftFCB did when it pulled out of the Auckland Council race. But on the other hand, it's also public money, so it makes sense to ensure the public organisations are getting a good deal—and good work—from the agency partners.
What do you think? Is there a better way?