On February 17, after a regional alignment saw SparkPHD take up the ANZ account and resign BNZ, we mentioned that rumours about a change of creative pants for the bank also appeared to be gathering steam. And it made the call this morning to put the account up for review, with the incumbent, Sugar, deciding not to participate.
Sugar’s managing director Jeremy Johnston says he’s proud of what the team has achieved and thinks “we pass a stronger more vibrant brand on to the next agency”.
The reason he says it has declined to pitch is because the team it started out with is now entirely different and it’s time to move on.
“In terms of reflecting back on that contribution, we think we’ve helped re-claim a powerful place for the bank in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders, with a solid footing for huge success in the future.”
As well as a brand relaunch, he says it has also helped leverage some big sponsorships with Super Rugby and Plunket.
He says the BNZ team have been great to deal with, but its marketing department has been through huge change and has had five marketing managers in just over two years, with ex Telecom and Vodafone man Craig Herbison now in the top chair (given the long-awaited Vodafone result was announced on Friday, it might not have been just the agencies involved who were waiting to find out who the winner was).
“It is therefore probably testament to our commitment and passion that a review hasn’t been called long before now,” he says.
While Johnston says he’s “had better days in advertising”, and BNZ, which, according to Nielsen, spent around $10 million on advertising last year is obviously a huge client to lose, he says the agency’s still in fine fettle.
“Yes, we’ll have to rebalance our agency, but as a business we are in good health, with an election win just under our belts, superb results coming through for TAB, the Igloo launch just around the corner, and an exciting new brand launch on a special project. We’ve also been really strong with new business lately. Priorities will be a drink tonight – and a fresh start tomorrow. If there are any clients out there that require a smart, results focussed and nice full service agency please email me tomorrow morning–after about 11.30.”
When Sugar won the account from Y&R, many were surprised such a big beast would go with a small indie. Having this account and doing good work like BNZ Stories and Find Your Start has certainly helped raise the profile of the agency, he says. And between itself and the likes of Special Group, Droga5, Barnes, Catmur & Friends, Shine and a few others, he believes the market turned a corner about three or four years ago when it comes to the perception of indies.
“Around the world he says there’s been a real coming of age of boutique shops … And BNZ was symptomatic of that shift,” he says.