Lion weighs up its digital options

Lion has put its digital business up for pitch, with the incumbent DAN, Gladeye and Young & Shand/Tailor thought to be in the running.  

Lion uses a range of different creative agencies, including DDB for major brands like SteinlagerSpeight’s and Lindauer, Shine for Beck’s and Mac’s, Special Group for Smirnoff, King St for Waikato Draught and others. Some of those agencies also do digital work from time to time, but it has traditionally used DAN as its ‘master digital agency’ at the platform level to work across its 28 brands. 

It’s thought DAN originally resigned the account because it was too much effort for too little reward, but put its hand up again (managing director Che Tamahori wasn’t able to be contacted). It’s thought that decision was also a wake-up call for Lion, which started thinking about whether it was using the right model and was paying fairly for the work. 

It’s unlikely to be a question of quality, however, as DAN’s major strength is in creating UX-led digital design for grunty digital clients like Tourism New Zealand, ANZTVNZ and some Whybin\TBWA clients. Lion, on the other hand, generally requires small site builds and occasional social campaigns. 

While many of the creative agencies it works with have impressive digital credentials, Lion appears to like the idea of having another external digital viewpoint and a back-end build partner, so the strategy has been based around creative agencies coming up with the idea and the comms strategy and then the digital agency executing. By using one digital agency, it’s thought Lion hopes to standardise platforms and CMS systems for site builds, as well as analytics and reporting. It also hopes to gain cost efficiencies. And when there are bigger projects, budgets will be allocated to the agency accordingly. 

There are some grey areas, however. For example, Steinlager’s latest campaign #AllBlackSnap featured a website built by DDB and it is thought to control a number of the digital and social channels for some of Lion’s major brands. 

Lion’s external relations manager Liz Read was unable to be contacted, but it’s thought Craig Baldie, ‎national marketing and international director, is running the project, with Deb Robinson acting as project manager. 

A decision is expected to be made by August 1.  

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