BNZ banks on Colenso BBDO—UPDATED

In another round of bankland swings-and-roundabouts Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has appointed Colenso BBDO as its new creative agency, in alignment with with its Australian parent bank. BNZ spends around $10 million on advertising a year, so it’s a good win for Colenso, but Westpac may not be so thrilled… it dumped Saatchi & Saatchi for Colenso BBDO just 18 months ago.

Last month saw SparkPHD take up the ANZ media account and resign BNZ (no word yet on who’s scooped that one). And last week incumbent Sugar declined to participate in the pitch for the creative account. These recent changes follow on from other agency shifts for ANZ, which went from DDB to TBWA\, and ASB, which went from TBWA\ to Droga5.

Of all the predictions we heard about who was likely to take over BNZ, Colenso BBDO’s name didn’t come up once because of its existing relationship with Westpac, and the fact that it had only recently released the new brand work after a fairly long wait, so it’s a surprise to many—including many at Colenso.

Managing director Nick Garrett wasn’t saying too much and left it to Clemenger Group don Jim Moser to answer our queries and he admits it’s going to be a difficult few months as the transition takes place (it should be official on June 1). He confirmed there was no pitch and it was a regional realignment brokered at a very senior level after the NAB asked to work with the same network trans-Tasman.

“They’re very clear that they won’t be using the same work in both markets, as they’re very distinct brands. But the NAB is our biggest client in Australia, and that carries quite a bit of weight.”

He says alignments, both regional and global, are a fact of life in a networked agency and he’s been on the good and bad ends of them in his time. When asked what this one is, he says it’s a bit of both: bad because it has to forgo Westpac, which it has a strong relationship with and was doing some solid work for, and good because Colenso gets to rekindle its relationship with BNZ, which it worked with for around 25 years before losing it in 2005. He believes it will be a good thing for Colenso and it is now, after losing Vodafone, the agency’s biggest client.

Adding to the difficulty of this situation, the news leaked early, so he admits “it’s been a really difficult thing”.

Moser wasn’t sure what would happen to Westpac’s relationship with .99 (this new alignment also raise questions over whether BNZ’s below-the-line agency will remain in place), but he was hopeful the work it has done for the brand in the past will work in its favour.

“I would hope Westpac would keep working with .99 as they have a very strong relationship. That would be my optimum result,” he says.

Craig Herbison, BNZ’s chief marketing officer, said in a release: “Colenso BBDO has the creative track record and brand acumen we were after to move the BNZ brand forward.”

BNZ’s parent bank National Australia Bank (NAB) has been working successfully with Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne for the last six years. The relationship has been a strong and fruitful one having most recently launched the award winning ‘Break-Up’ campaign to game-changing effect in the Australian banking market.

Andrew Hagger, National Australia Bank group executive, people, marketing and communications says, “There are clear synergies for us with Clemenger BBDO and the regional alignment across the NAB Group will give us increased scale and efficiencies”.

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