DraftFCB's chief executive Bryan Crawford says the decision was based on timing, rather than on the onerous pitch process. He says there's been quite a bit pitching action recently and also a lot going on around the Rugby World Cup with its existing clients, so it just didn't have the resources available to do it justice.
"It's a big piece of business, therefore they want to know whoever they choose can handle it. And the brief is developed around that. For us it was just a timing issue. We just had a lot on. And no-one has unlimited resources. Sometimes you have to say no."
In These Difficult Times, saying no to work is obviously a good problem to have and DraftFCB has picked up a load of new accounts in the past year.
"Yeah, we've had a pretty good trot," he says.
Like most government/council pitches, there's no remuneration and a lot of work required. As Crawford says: You can't just turn up on the day with a cool creative idea. They need to know if the agency is effective and can handle the workload. And they need to make a fact-based decision, which is why the RFP process exists.
Crawford wouldn't speculate on who he thought would take it out now that his agency is out of the running. But he says council business does require a lot of day to day comms drudgery and automation (the retail side of things, if you're putting it in those terms). Still, there's always the potential to do great creative work as well.
"And being a new entity, there may be a new appetite for some fresh creative approaches," he says.
Most are picking the incumbent, retail machine Ogilvy, which has held the business for over ten years and is well-suited to churning out collateral and information for ratepayers. But .99's retail skills combined with Colenso's creative focus is also a nice package, despite some occasional good natured argy bargy between the two Clems stablemates.
As for what the account's worth, Crawford says no-one is sure yet. But he says the figures of $5-15 million that had been bandied about aren't accurate and he only got to see a scope of work.
The pitching parties are all bound by confidentiality agreements and were unable to speak about the pitch.