Following last month's announcement that Vodafone was undergoing the process of reviewing its global media account (worth about US$950 million), it has now been reported that WPP's MEC has won the final round of pitching, which was contested between MEC and Carat (part of the Dentsu Aegis network).
Incumbent OMD was eliminated in a preliminary round, which meant that the account would change hands for the third review in a row.
Carat previously held the account between 2004 and 2009, followed by OMD, which had the telecommunications giant penned into its ledger from 2009 to 2014.
Given that agencies under the WPP umbrella already hold the majority of Vodafone's local creative accounts throughout the world, this move will serve to consolidate the group's hold on the red mobile service provider. So strong is WPP's hold on Vodafone that the conglomerate has even developed a ‘Team Red Media’ unit to look after Vodafone's business.
However, the New Zealand arm of Vodafone is not under a contractual obligation to align its accounts with global decisions. This was clearly evidenced in 2012, when Interpublic's FCB won a competitive pitch for the Vodafone creative account, despite the fact that WPP-owned Ogilvy was involved in the process.
On the media side of things, Spark PHD, owned by Omnicom, has held Vodafone's local account for about 14 years—meaning that the agency has been able to hold onto the account through two review processes in the past.
At the time of the 2009 review (when the account moved from Carat to OMD), Spark PHD's chief executive Louise Bond told Campaign Brief that "the process was rigorous and challenging, yet exciting for the ... team".
It's still unclear what the global changes mean for the local account holders, with Vodafone New Zealand's external comms manager Michelle Baguley saying that she is unable to comment at this stage.
We have also contacted several of the agencies involved at a local level, but they have all refused to release official comments on account of a request from Vodafone.
It's thought that the agencies will only be permitted to release official statements after the Easter break.