In January, Vodafone announced that it was reviewing its global media account, which has been held by Omnicom's OMD for half a decade. And this process could have repercussions for local account holders.
"Vodafone Group has decided to review its existing media planning and buying agency arrangements," says Vodafone New Zealand's external comms manager Michelle Baguley. "The move comes five years after the last global review in keeping with good corporate practice, and following the advancements in the media and digital landscape."
While the review process has been played down as good corporate practice, this doesn't necessarily translate into any guarantees for the incumbent in this market, Spark PHD. According to The Independent, Dentsu Aegis (Carat) and WPP (through MEC) are thought to be involved in the current global review for the £600 million business alongside the incumbent, OMD.
In 2009, when Vodafone last reviewed its global media account, it moved from Carat. This did not result in any changes in the local market, with Spark PHD (which, like OMD, is also owned by Omnicom) extending its partnership with the mobile provider to what has now become 14 years.
Spark PHD's chief executive Louise Bond told Campaign Brief at the time that "the process was rigorous and challenging, yet exciting for the Spark PHD team".
Bond could not be reached for comment on account of being on leave until early April, but Spark PHD's managing director Nikki Grafton told StopPress that Vodafone had asked everyone involved not to comment on the review process.
Baguley says Vodafone expects "to complete a thorough [review] process during the first half of this year," and adds that it will be business as usual until further announcements are made.
"This is a global decision, and all incumbent media agencies will continue to provide services in the local operating companies until further notice," she says.
Vodafone spent $43 million on media in New Zealand last year, according to Nielsen AIS figures (which are based on ratecard value), putting it in tenth spot on the big spenders list.
Creatively, New Zealand is thought to be one of the few territories in the world where Vodafone doesn't work with an aligned WPP agency, with DraftFCB winning the account back in early 2012.