The entire PlaceMakers advertising business has gone up for pitch and while no-one will confirm who's in the running, Ogilvy's managing director Greg Partington says it certainly won't be his agency, which has had the account since 2008.
“We’ve had the account for a couple of years and we are extremely proud of the work we have done for them but weeks ago for a variety of reasons we made the strategic decision we would not be involved in the current agency review by PlaceMakers”, he says.
A story in the NBR suggested Ogilvy is participating in the new pitch process, along with rumoured associates Y&R, TBWA\, DDB and .99, which already has Carters but would likely resign it for this larger account. Somewhat surprisingly, sources say DDB isn't on the list. But, not surprisingly, the lips of all those other agencies supposedly involved (and the lips of those within PlaceMakers) were staying firmly sealed.
“That’s simply not true,” says Partington. “We are an extremely large agency with a full volume of business and we’ve made the decision to concentrate all our resources on our existing clients and their expanding demands."
Bill Ralston was keeping the gates firmly closed on this one and wasn't giving anything away, aside from saying that PlaceMakers, the retail trading arm of Fletcher Building in New Zealand, decided to review all of its supplier relationships last month, including its advertising, and Ogilvy decided not to enter into another pitch situation.
Ralston wouldn't say why Ogilvy decided not to pitch "because you don't want to comment about your clients", but he says Ogilvy's business is "expanding in all kinds of different ways". Even so, it's a big account to give up and, unless they're keeping it fairly close to their chests, there hasn't been too much in the way of new business recently (outside the recent Hypermedia deal).
Ralston says the whole kit and kaboodle is on offer for another agency, including retail, creative, media, DM, trade and loyalty (the loyalty scheme that Ogilvy established and the "standard of the advertising done" stick out as highlights, he says).
PlaceMakers chief executive John Beveridge is out of town until Thursday and couldn't be contacted, but his PA said five agencies have been shortlisted (PlaceMaker's marketing manager Julie Green didn't respond before press time). But it's safe to assume that if TBWA\ are actually in the running it will be feverishly gunning for some more work after what has been a very tough year.
The winner is expected to be announced in a few weeks.