2degrees and Special Group part ways

Only seven months after retaining Special Group as its lead creative agency, 2degrees has now confirmed that it has parted ways with the independent shop.

In a brief statement sent to StopPress this afternoon, 2degrees chief marketing officer Roy Ong confirmed that the telco had ended its partnership with Special Group.

“2degrees is reassessing our creative/brand needs and as a result, we will be ending our relationship with Special Group,” Ong said in the statement.

“We’d like to thank Special – they’ve done some great work for us, but we now need to take a different approach to continue to accelerate the success of our fast-growing business.”

Ong adds that there are no plans for a pitch at this stage.

This move is somewhat unexpected, given that 2degrees only recently put its business up for pitch.

Taking place at the end of last year, the final stages of the pitch were contended between Special Group, Saatchi & Saatchi and the Dentsu Aegis Network (the parent company of creative agency Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu).

Ong eventually decided to retain Special on the creative tools and has since rolled out several campaigns with the agency.

During a lengthy interview last year, Ong told StopPress that he put the agencies through three rounds of pitching on a multi-disciplinary brief broken down into five core components.

“By the third round we finally saw something from Special that ticked all five boxes,” Ong told StopPress at the time.

Ong said the pitch was about due dilligence and ensuring that he had the right partner for the future of the business.  

He would not field any further questions on why he had changed his mind at this stage, limiting correspondence to his short statement.   

Special Group managing partner Michael Redwood pointed to some of the highlights of the partnership.

“We want to thank everyone at Special, past and present, who have put so much energy, commitment and smart thinking into this brand,” he says. 

“I think we can be proud of the results achieved, and how we helped drive 2degrees forward. Data Hunt and Play the Bridge have been personal highlights – winning 24 Axis Awards between them. Data Hunt in particular drove huge levels of enegagement with the brand – with more than 200,000 app downloads and 5 million plays. Both campaigns were Special initiatives, and we’re continuing to build a track record of bringing large-scale digital experiences that connect our clients’ brands with customers. We wish 2degrees continued success and will continue to work with the team over the coming months to ensure any transition is handled with the care it deserves.”

In addition to these campaigns, Special Group also helped 2degrees launch its broadband offering into the market. 

Redwood similarly chose not to make any further comments when asked for the circumstances surrounding the sudden shift.  

This move comes off the back of 2degrees posting its first profit this year since the business opened its doors in 2009.

The Herald reported in May that 2degrees had doubled its broadband subscriber base, lifting revenue substantially.

“Last year was a turning point for 2degrees,” the telco’s chief executive Stewart Sherriff told the Herald.

“Total revenue grew as average customer revenues increased, while network costs reduced as we completed a mobile network extension programme. Our mobile customers enjoy 97.5 percent coverage.”

At this stage, it’s unclear whether 2degrees will be appointing a new creative agency to replace Special Group.  

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