Turning the page: Paper Plus moves accounts to Contagion

Paper Plus is thought to have moved its creative and media accounts to Contagion after more than five years with FCB.

Contagion’s Dean Taylor was unable to comment and no-one from Paper Plus responded to StopPress’s requests to share the reasons behind the shift, but it’s thought the company spoke with a number of agencies and was looking to spend its money in different ways.

According to Nielsen, Paper Plus’ spend has declined in the last few years, going from $4,411,753 between May 2015 and April 2016, to $2,461,901 between May 2017 and April 2018. 

FCB was also unwilling to comment about the move, but it comes soon after losing the VW account to DDB. On the plus side, FCB has recently won VTNZ and Samsung, which should more than balance the ledger.

FCB’s new CEO Dan Martin has been in the job for around one year and it’s not uncommon to see internal changes and client wins and losses when new leadership comes on board.

Talking about the changes with NZ Marketing earlier this year—particularly staff numbers which were up two to 215 in his first six months with the agency—he said: it’s not chasing growth for growth’s sake, rather it’s focused on improving its talent and skills in all departments and growing organically with clients.

However, Martin also said despite FCB’s long-running slogan of ‘The Change Agency’, he did not join to change everything.

“It’s to take something that works really well and work with the team to tweak it and make it work even better.”

Founded in 1983, Paper Plus has 130 stores around the country. And, as has been the case all around the world, traditional booksellers have been particularly hard hit by the rise of digital media, the increasing dominance of e-commerce behemoths like Amazon and, more recently, the increase in interest around audiobooks.

But a study conducted by PWC titled ‘The economic contribution of the New Zealand book publishing industry’, showed there was still plenty of life left in the industry. Physical book sales in store accounted for $234 million of a total $397 million impact over 2012-2017, while ebook sales accounted for only $29 million.

The study said brick and mortar bookselling “was at its highest level in four years, rebounding after difficult trading conditions in 2013 and 2014.” Adult colouring books, for instance, rose dramatically in popularity, while children’s books continue to sell better in print than in digital form. Physical books and magazines are also increasingly seen as a respite for people who are almost constantly surrounded by screens. FCB has pushed this with a series of ads aimed at showcasing the joy of books to the younger generation.

Paper Plus traditionally marketed itself as a book, magazine and stationery seller, but, like Whitcoulls, which has moved further into toy retailing, it has expanded its offering to include eBooks, technology toys and gifts, among other items. 

After a rebrand and major store refit in 2011, the company’s slogan became “My books. My stationery. My store”. In 2015, FCB undertook another rebrand that aimed to appeal to people on a more emotional level. Enter Blurb – a “porky, green, loveable character” that ex-general manager of retail at FCB Kamran Kazalbash said appealed to people young and old alike.

“His humour is appealing to children, but you’ll see some stuff that’s got a bit of an edge to it that adults will find funny,” Kazalbash said. “It’s kind of like when you watch a Pixar movie and you see jokes in there which are deliberately designed for adults, it’s in that vein. [Pak’n’Save’s] Stickman is similar.”

The slogan used in its advertising (as well as on staff uniforms) was ‘Tickle your imagination’ and it was intended as a call to action that challenged New Zealanders to engage their imagination through Paper Plus’ arts, crafts, books and other products. 

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