One of the biggest media pitches of the year is set to reach its conclusion, with OMD, PHD and Carat thought to have been battling for the Air New Zealand account over the past few months.
The account has been with OMD in the local market for a number of years (it is thought the account shifted there when three media agencies merged to form OMD in 2007), during which there have intermittently been rumours of the client doing due diligence on the account.
This has now come to fruition, with Air New Zealand pitching not only the local business but also its account across the ditch, which is currently listed on the PHD ledger.
Air New Zealand did not respond to a request for comment on the pitch.
According to Nielsen figures, which are based on ratecard spend, Air New Zealand spent $26.6 million on advertising for the year ending October 2016, down from the $34 million spent a year earlier.
Air New Zealand now does some of its creative work in-house, and a source has also revealed that the airline is looking at taking some of its media spend in-house, supposedly due to concerns around transparency that have bubbled up to the industry's surface in recent times. Dentsu Aegis’ Japanese arm has been exposed for over-charging Toyota, Mediacom in Australia was caught falsifying TV results for its clients, a damning Association of National Advertisers report showed there are major issues with rebates and transparency in the US, and there has been a consistent stream of reports on the inaccuracy of digital metrics, with Facebook again being forced to admit it has been inflating numbers.
Clients taking creative and media in-house is an international trend and another source has revealed to StopPress that Air New Zealand has been looking closely at the viability of taking its programmatic spend in-house.
Air New Zealand appointed former Mediacom general manager John Buckley to the position of paid channels manager in September this year. And the job description on his LinkedIn page says: “The paid channels manager is tasked with building Air New Zealand’s adtech/programmatic capability and driving the strategic roadmap for all paid digital display.”
When speaking with FCB's departing head of client service Simon Teagle recently, he said the trading and buying role of agencies was becoming more automated, meaning agencies were going to be differentiated by the “smarts of the strategic people in the building". That's where media agencies want to be at the moment, as there's more margin in the thinking rather than the execution. But while trading has become a low-margin game for many media agencies – especially when it comes to bigger clients – the problem with relying on strategy is that clients don't always need it.
Air New Zealand isn’t the only major local organisation to have made a key appointment from a media agency in the latter half of this year.
BNZ, which recently ended its retainer partnership with Colenso BBDO, appointed former Vivaki head of digital Nick Boulstridge to the role of digital media director in November.