Contact Energy tries its luck elsewhere—UPDATED

As Genesis, the country’s biggest spending energy company, gets set to announce the results of its recent pitch, Contact, the country’s second biggest spending energy company, is also searching for some new agency partners, although, judging by the number of go-to industry gossips who didn’t know about it, it seems to have been a slightly more exclusive affair. 

Contact Energy’s media contact Shaun Jones confirmed there had been a pitch recently, but there was nothing he could talk about yet and said “we haven’t made a formal decision” (updated comments from Jones below). 

Zephyr has worked with Contact Energy for around four years, alongside Moore Rainger, and the pair have done some nice work for the company’s Triathlon New Zealand sponsorship in that time. But while partner Rob Coulter says it is still working with Contact at the moment, he says it decided not to take part in the pitch. 

He believes the rationale was to bring the number of agencies it works with down from what he says could have been as high as 18 to a more manageable number and give the brand some more attention (like Genesis and the other SOEs, one the goals is presumably to try and increase the value of those brands before they are partially sold off). 

It’s thought the RFP was quite specific and based around media, creative and design and we’ve heard a media agency may have already been appointed (MPG has worked as its media agency recently and it has also worked with Base Two and Assignment Group). 

It’s thought the phrase ‘Wellington agency preferred’ featured on the pitch document, but the pool seems quite limited. Clemenger BBDO and Assignment work with Meridian, Y&R, M&C Saatchi, Saatchi & Saatchi and DraftFCB are thought to be involved in the Genesis showdown, and the account seems unlikely to go back to Ogilvy, which held it a few years ago. The aforementioned agencies could also have more than one iron in the fire and it doesn’t preclude Auckland agencies from pitching either, but we haven’t heard any whispers. 

UPDATE: Jones got back to us and says the pitch process is something the company has been working on for several months and is part of a wider process to improve efficiencies across the business. 

He says it started off with a media RFP, which was recently awarded to Mediacom. And it invited a select number of agencies to pitch for the other aspects of its business, with the results due to be announced in a couple of weeks.  

He wouldn’t comment on how many agencies it currently works with (“we work with a range of agencies across the business”) and whether these changes had anything to do with the mixed ownership model, saying it “was just an opportunity to look at our efficiencies” and that it hasn’t been to market with a pitch for a while. 

Contact provides electricity, natural gas and LPG to around 560,000 customers nationwide and is the only electricity and natural gas supplier to offer Fly Buys. According to Nielsen, Contact has almost doubled its ad spend from a year ago. 

Nielsen AIS ratecard data for electricity sector ($). 

    Last 12 months Year Ago
    1/08/2011 – 31/07/2012 1/08/2010 – 31/07/2011
Genesis Energy 1 4,408,317 3,608,958
Contact Energy 2 3,087,013 1,615,572
Mercury Energy 3 2,903,922 272,735
Meridian Energy 4 2,096,338 2,862,114
Energy Efficiency&Conservation 5 1,837,539 1,391,180
Auckland Energy Consumer Trust 6 635,897 472,412
Powershop 7 509,284 502,120
Ministry Of Consumer Affairs 8 316,327 41,664
Trustpower 9 229,229 352,627
On Gas 10 219,524 23,524

Speaking of pitches, the education NZ tender is also due and the MARS NZ media business is also up for review (OMD is the incumbent). 

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