Michael Hill looks to College Hill as Colenso BBDO wins jeweller’s hand

It’s been a stunner of a year for Colenso BBDO, which has won eight of nine pitches this year. And its latest win is Michael Hill, which appointed the agency to develop its global brand strategy. 

Just like the Tourism Fiji win, it was a global pitch. And its first role will be to create a brand campaign for New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US. 

As managing director Nick Garrett and creative chairman Nick Worthington said back in May, the agency was keen on increasing the amount of international work it was doing, whether for overseas brands in other markets or Kiwi companies operating overseas. And Michael Hill is a good example of that. 

He says some “might see Colenso BBDO and Michael Hill as a weird combination”, but it’s a big company (full-year revenue was around $200 million in 2002 and its annual report shows that has increased to $549 million this year) and it has been enlisted to work on the top layer of creative strategy, with the main goal of strengthening the brand for a big push into the US and Canada. 

“It’s a great company, there are some really smart people there and they have a big internal marketing and creative team [based in Brisbane]… It doesn’t mean we’ll be stepping in to do the business as usual. We won’t be doing brochures. And we can’t physically do that for all the markets, but we’ll help them out all with all the other stuff.” 

He says it’s nice to add another retail client to its roster (the other one of note is New World). And while the account will be run from here (by Ange Watson) it will be working closely with the BBDO network in the various markets. 

He says the new business process, which was facilitated by Peter McDonald of Pitch Perfect Advisors, was among the most professional he’s come across, but he was unaware of the other agencies involved or if there were any other local contenders. 

He thinks it will be a very big piece of business for the agency over the next few years because “their expansion plans are huge” (store numbers have increased from 120 to 240 in the past decade and it plans to increase that to 1000 in the following decade). He says it’s also quite a positive Kiwi story and, while he says there is some cynicism directed towards Colenso BBDO, it hasn’t taken revenue from another local agency, it’s stopped it from heading overseas.  

“Colenso BBDO really impressed us with the way they’re consistently able to bring brands to life through their marketing communications,” says Sue Szylvester, group marketing executive for Michael Hill in a release. “We’re looking forward to developing campaigns that bring to life all of the excitement and emotion associated with jewellery.”

According to Mumbrella, Michael Hill’s Australian creative business was handled by McCann before being taken inhouse at the end of 2011.

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