Operation agency shift: Kiwibank scratches seven year itch, hands business to Assignment

Kiwibank has split up with Ogilvy in an effort to, as general manager of marketing Nicky Ashton says, stay fresh and vibrant. And to do that it’s given the business to Ogilvy’s STW stablemate Assignment Group without a pitch.  

“It’s pretty straight-forward. From our perspective it was time for a change,” she says.  

When we managed to get a rare interview with the Assignment Group gang for NZ Marketing magazine last year, it was pretty obvious they were on the hunt for new business—and a bank was top of the list.  

“When the banks were up for pitch last year, I read that Assignment wouldn’t be interested, but that’s absolutely wrong,” said Martin Yeoman. “We may be boutique on the inside, but we deal with some of the biggest problems, challenges and clients out there.” 

When contacted about the win, Yeoman said “this is the bank we’ve always wanted”. And it does fit very well in the Assignment stable, with big local brands like Z and Whittaker’s already benefitting from the agency’s ability to “tell great New Zealand stories”. 

Ashton praised Ogilvy’s work for Kiwibank and said the decision to shift wasn’t based on the quality of the work. 

“I think Kiwibank as a whole should be enormously proud of what we’ve achieved. And Ogilvy has been a big part of that.”

She pointed to the Join the Movement campaign and the recent brand work to celebrate ten years as campaigns that stuck out. 

Ogilvy’s executive director Paul Manning said: “We’ve made a commitment to Kiwibank not to comment on the transition of their account to Assignment. So unfortunately on this occasion I can’t provide you with any details on the matter.” He was obviously disappointed to have lost the business for reasons other than the quality of the work, something backed up by its many awards, including the 2008 Grand Effie and 11 finalists in last year’s TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards. Kiwibank is performing strongly, but the seven year itch obviously needed to be scratched (change often begets change, and Ogilvy has a new creative director, Angus Hennah, and planning director, Adi Staite, so it could be argued the bank could have got fresh thinking without changing the agency). 

It started its relationship with Kiwibank after acquiring Meares Taine, and introduced the nation to Raymond, the Kiwibank smartcar, in 2006. 

Kiwibank also works with Designworks (which is an STW company and does a lot of the brand work), Springload and Ikon. 

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