New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has awarded the redesign of its website to Australian agency DT, after putting out a tender for the business.
StopPress understands that local teams from Datacom, DNA and Terabyte were all involved in the process, but the government organisation has decided to opt for the agency based across the ditch (it's thought the agency has one employee based in Auckland).
It's thought the redesign had a budget of around $450,000, which is a large project for this market.
Asked why NZTE decided to hand the business to Australian firm when its main purpose is to help New Zealand businesses, the communications team declined to comment, saying that the matter was still being finalised and that an official statement would only be made next week.
The decision by NZTE to appoint an Australian agency does seem quite incongruent with the organisation’s positioning as a champion of local industry.
StopPress contacted Pead PR founder Deborah Pead for her thoughts on the impact this move might have on the organisation’s image, and she describes it as “a PR nosedive”.
She says that she could understand a local business working with an international agency if a campaign or marketing initiative demanded localised knowledge of the area where that agency was located, something Tourism New Zealand does regularly (a few years back, the decision to award the NZ Story contract to Australian agency Principals was also criticised), but she doesn’t believe it applies in this instance.
“It feels disrespectful to Kiwi talent,” she says. “We’re surrounded by brilliant examples of excellent creative work being produced locally.”
Pead points to NZTE’s website, saying that the organisation places enormous emphasis on supporting local industry, and says that the move seems counter-intuitive.
PR proponents regularly lament the fact that decisions don't always factor in potential brand damage in the court of public opinion. Even if something is cheaper, or able to be done, there are other things to consider. DB felt the brunt when it tried to trademark the term radler. And recently, Tuatara fell foul of the beer fraternity by trying to trademark the terms Kapai and Amarillo, which is a common hop variety. After a negative response on social media, it backed down. If the ink isn't dry on that contract NZTE, there's still time to change.