.99 claws one back off DraftFCB and Starcom cuts SparkPHD’s lunch as Genesis makes some switches—UPDATED

DraftFCB took a couple of .99’s biggest accounts last year in the form of Vodafone and Air New Zealand, but .99 has got some retribution as it’s won the Genesis Energy pitch along with justONE. And there’s also a change in media, with Starcom taking over from the incumbent Spark. 

It’s been a rough ride for .99 recently, with Westpac also heading down the hill to DDB after BNZ’s regional alignment to Clemenger Group. But it is clawing its way back and has won a bit of new business recently, including Tower and The Sunday Star Times. 

UPDATE: Here’s the release:

Genesis Energy today appointed .99 as its advertising agency to support the company’s drive to become the country’s leading customer-focused energy company. 

Auckland-based agency .99 and direct partner justONE were selected following a robust and rigorous selection process that involved 17 advertising, digital and media buying agencies. In addition, Genesis Energy has appointed Starcom as its media buying agency. 

Genesis Energy’s General Manager Marketing, Chris Watney thanked the outgoing agency, Draft FCB, for its work and commitment to the brand over the past nine years. “Draft FCB has taken the Genesis Energy brand to a high degree of recognition and likeability with the pukeko and neighbourly campaigns and for that work we thank them and former media agency, SparkPHD,” he said. 

Mr Watney said the decision to review advertising services was driven by the company’s increasing focus on driving retail growth. 

“We are excited about the opportunities working with .99 will bring as we work to meet our organisation’s strategic outcomes and look forward to getting started,” said Mr Watney. 

Craig Whitehead, Chief Executive and Executive Creative Director of .99 said, “As New Zealand’s largest energy retailer, Genesis Energy complements our existing portfolio of retail-focused clients. We are very excited and looking forward to working with the Genesis Energy team.” 

The brief said Genesis Energy’s “strategic ambition is to position the business as the brand of choice for our target segments in the New Zealand market by competing on innovation and a differentiated customer experience. Over the coming 12 months we will reposition the brand in its new space with new creative, a revitalised set of customer value propositions and a strong marketing push into our target segments. Your presentation should detail the recommended media strategy to support the roll-out of the new positioning. We are expecting to use a multi-channel approach across traditional and non-traditional media, however above all else your strategy should be designed to achieve strong cut-through in a crowded and disengaged market.”

But by steering clear of the big brand agencies and by choosing retail-focused .99 and Starcom, a few of the spurned lovers we spoke to felt this wasn’t consistent with the brief and was based less around innovation and more around direct response—and possibly price. 

Matt Scott, general manager, digital direct, DraftFCB says: “DraftFCB and Genesis Energy have enjoyed a really successful eight year partnership, during which time we have created one of New Zealand’s most liked advertising icons – The Pukeko which was a Fair Go Favourite ad finalist in 2007, 2008 and 2010. During this time DraftFCB also won 12 international and local awards for our advertising, digital and direct marketing work for Genesis Energy.”

When we called Genesis Energy’s public affairs manager Richard Gordon a few weeks back he said the decision to pitch had nothing to do with the mixed-ownership model and the ensuing partial sell-down of state assets. 

“We’ve been with the same agency [DraftFCB] for a few years and it was time to review the existing advertising and media buying services,” he said. 

But others we spoke to disagreed with that assertion and felt it most certainly is part of the mandate, with a desire to find efficiencies across the business, including with agency partners, so it can spend less, improve the value of the brand and get the best price when it’s on the block.

According to Nielsen AIS figures, Genesis spent the most on advertising of any energy company this year, followed by Contact Energy, which announced yesterday it had chosen JWT after its pitch. 

Nielsen AIS ratecard data for electricity sector ($). 

    Last 12 months Year Ago
    1/08/2011 – 31/07/2012 1/08/2010 – 31/07/2011
Genesis Energy 1 4,408,317 3,608,958
Contact Energy 2 3,087,013 1,615,572
Mercury Energy 3 2,903,922 272,735
Meridian Energy 4 2,096,338 2,862,114
Energy Efficiency&Conservation 5 1,837,539 1,391,180
Auckland Energy Consumer Trust 6 635,897 472,412
Powershop 7 509,284 502,120
Ministry Of Consumer Affairs 8 316,327 41,664
Trustpower 9 229,229 352,627
On Gas 10 219,524 23,524

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