.99 makes cuts after big account losses, as justONE shown the door at BNZ—UPDATED

After BNZ’s parent bank NAB recently shoulder-tapped Clemenger Group and asked Colenso BBDO to hop into bed with BNZ, Westpac was pushed out onto the floor and swiftly put its account up for pitch. At present, the Clemenger-owned .99, which recently had to show around 15 staff the door after the loss of Air New Zealand and Vodafone to DraftFCB, is Westpac’s retail agency but this new regional alignment and other agency changes for BNZ means it might be pretty tough to keep it that way. 

Clemenger Group chief executive Jim Moser confirmed the job losses at .99. He was unsure whether this new alignment would affect .99’s “very strong relationship” with Westpac but, unsurprisingly, he’s hoping the group can have its cake and eat it too. He said Colenso, much like Clemenger BBDO and the NAB in Oz, would be taking care of BNZ’s above-the-line and retail needs, while AIM Proximity would be taking care of direct. So, given there would be no interaction between BNZ and .99, he says the Westpac door is still open.

justONE’s managing director Ben Goodale, who had some good news this week when his agency was awarded the specialist title at the Fairfax AdMedia Agency awards, was fairly philosophical about being “collateral damage” in all this recent bank rejigging.

“It’s a shame because we’d done some great work and we’d worked really well with the BNZ team in the past year. But there’s really not much you can do about it.”

He says there won’t be any job losses as it has recently had a couple of good, soon-to-be announced wins. But, with a good track record and plenty of specialist banking smarts now unexpectedly lying dormant in the office, maybe they’ll soon be sharing the love with Westpac.

Westpac’s general manager marketing and customer experience, Martine Jager, said in a release that after getting some good momentum in recent months (and, ironically, with new work soon to launch from Colenso) the time was right to consolidate the number of providers from the current five.

“We are thankful for the work and commitment of those who have partnered with us. We are looking for an efficient process and selected agencies will be invited to pitch shortly.”

It’s thought Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB and Y&R are in the mix.

Elsewhere in the confusing realm of regional realignments, Moser didn’t know whether the Clems relationship would affect the media tender currently in the market for BNZ. If it did, OMD and Spark PHD are Omnicom-owned and split 50/50 between Clemenger Group and DDB Group, but as Spark recently resigned BNZ and took up ANZ because of a separate regional realignment, it seems like OMD would be leading that race.

We asked to speak with BNZ’s chief marketing officer Craig Herbison to clear a few things up, but the corporate comms teams said he was off-site today and is away in Australia until Tuesday, so he couldn’t speak with us until then. We’ve sent a few questions through, so we’ll keep you posted.

But enough of that. This is making our heads hurt.

UPDATE: Some answers from BNZ’s corporate comms team to the questions we sent through yesterday.

1) Will NAB/BNZ be working with .99 or Aim Proximity on the retail account given the regional alignment?

“Too early for details.”

2) Has any decision been made about BNZ’s media account and is the regional alignment with Clemenger also a factor here?

“We’re still reviewing our options.”


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