ANZ retention and Yellow addition welcome good news for Whybin\TBWA—UPDATED

Whybin\TBWA has been through a fair amount of change since Todd McLeay took over in early 2013, both in terms of clients and staff. But, much to the agency’s relief, it has retained its biggest client after ANZ re-signed its trans-Tasman contract. 

McLeay wasn’t able to give any details about the deal, aside from saying the “relationship is going well and the work has been good”, with the new ‘Time is Money’ campaign launching in the New Zealand market recently and ANZ returning from Cannes with an outdoor grand prix for its GAYTMs campaign.

“From my perspective, it’s good. It’s safe.” 

Head of retail marketing Matt Pickering is away at the moment but in an email he said it would provide an official response soon. It’s not clear how long the contract has been signed for, but it’s thought the last one was three years. 

UPDATE: An ANZ spokesperson says “ANZ has extended its contract with Whybin\TBWA for a further 12 months effective from September 30, 2014 covering creative requirements in Australia, New Zealand and Asia”.

Tourism New Zealand also has a trans-Tasman relationship with Whybin\TBWA, and while it was recently rumoured that the account had been moved entirely to Australia, both McLeay and Tourism New Zealand’s Andrew Fraser said that wasn’t the case and work is handled on a project-by-project basis. Most of the projects do appear to have been coming from Australia recently and while some will no doubt see an Aussie agency working on the most New Zealand of accounts as nigh-on unpatriotic, Australia is New Zealand’s biggest tourist market and a lot of the digital work, which accounts for a large chunk of Tourism New Zealand’s budget, is still being done DAN (there’s history here, too, as M&C Saatchi in Australia originally came up with the 100% Pure slogan). 

While Whybin\TBWA lost 2degrees to Special last year and recently said farewell to the remaining chunk of Mercury Energy, it has won Bell Tea and completed a large Trade Me project. Now it can put another one in the plus column after being appointed as a strategic and creative partner for Yellow’s upcoming brand refresh

Yellow certainly isn’t the behemoth it once was, but McLeay says it’s still a big company that has strong, embedded relationships with New Zealand businesses and it is a “hugely exciting, year-long project”. He says there has been a changing of the guard at Yellow recently and it is intent on strengthening its digital and print brand portfolio in the New Zealand market.

“Yellow has such a legacy and history, so we’ll be approaching the work with equal measures of innovation, originality, care and respect,” he says.  

Yellow chief executive Michael Boersen, who took the helm in February 2014, says the business is “changing at pace and it’s the right time to sharpen how we communicate our brand and what it means to consumers and businesses”.  

“We’re listening to what people want from us, and staying focused with connecting people to the businesses they’re looking for, wherever they’re searching. Yellow pages used to be the lion’s share of what we did, but today almost half our revenue comes from our digital offerings so we need to make sure our brands reflect the evolving nature of our business.” 

Leading the project is head of communications and media Maja Lee, who said the appointment is part of an ongoing evolution of how Yellow works with its suite of agency partners. It works with Starcom for media and Porter Novelli for its marketing communications and corporate PR. It also consults with Young & Shand for social projects and works with True for B2B activity (the last major above the line campaign launched in October last year and riffed on Ernest Hemingway’s famous six word story ‘For sale, baby shoes, never worn’).

“We’ve got some of the best brains in advertising, direct, social, media and PR working with us at Yellow,” says Lee. “True delivered outstanding campaigns for us last year and we’ll continue to work with them on B2B activity and The Biz event series again this year.” 

McLeay says some of the agency’s senior staff already have some experience with the business, with head of planning David McIndoe and chief creative officer Dave King both having worked on the account in previous roles.  

During his time with Aim Proximity, King led the Yellow account, including the lauded ‘Yellow Tree House’ campaign that received a cluster of Cannes Lions and a multitude of other local and international awards.

“The opportunity to get back on board with Yellow is a welcome one for me,” says King. “This is a company with an appetite for big ideas, ideas that really make a mark on the industry and Whybin\TBWA’s philosophy of disruption is a perfect partner for a project like this.” 

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