Skycity puts its money on Colenso BBDO

Those working in the ad industry are renowned for spending a fair bit of time in bars and restaurants, and it seems the staff of Colenso BBDO will be spending a bit more time in the bars and restaurants owned by Skycity after winning a competitive pitch that took place a few months ago.  

When asked about the decision, Skycity said it wasn’t ready to announce anything yet (*cough, election, cough*) and Colenso BBDO’s managing director Nick Garrett had no comment.

Skycity’s marketing was previously handled by an inhouse team but it’s thought Colenso BBDO will be focusing on brand communications and corporate reputation, rather than any of the business as usual retail work required for its casino, hospitality or hotel divisions. In the past, Skycity was seen as a casino with a few hotels, but it’s aiming to shift that perception and become known as an entertainment company that actually enhances the city, rather than sucks money out of it. And it’s done a pretty good job of that by helping to rejuvenate the Federal St precinct, with new restaurants from Al Brown, Nick Watt, Peter Gordon and Sean Connolly (the council also did its bit by paving the area and making it into a shared space). 

Colenso BBDO worked with Skycity for around ten years before Whybin\TBWA won the account in 2007. Soon after, Assignment started doing the TV work and, in an effort to save costs, the company then decided to create an in-house creative studio in 2010, with Tracey Fox and Ron Fielding moving across from Whybin\TBWA to help set it up (it made the TVC that’s currently running to promote Federal St). Fox left around 18 months ago to take up a role at TRN and was replaced by Rob Jenkinson. 

Colenso BBDO also runs the ATEED and Heart of the City accounts, so it makes sense for one agency to be controlling the image of Auckland. And no doubt Skycity will see an opportunity to get in on some of that tourism action too. 

It’s thought bcg2 made it into the final round of the pitch, with Saatchi & Saatchi and another agency involved in the early stages. 

In late 2012, the government announced new legislation that meant Skycity would invest $402 million to design, build, own and operate the New Zealand International Convention Centre in exchange for an extension of its license to 2048 and an increase in gaming product and other gaming concessions (“230 gaming machines, 40 gaming tables, a further 12 gaming tables that can each be substituted for 20 automated table game terminals, the introduction of cashless card‐based gaming, the extension of Ticket In Ticket Out (TITO) technology and at least 780 new car parks”). Those concessions will kick off once “Skycity enters into a binding building works contract for the NZICC, which is expected to be in the second half of calendar year 2014.” It’s not clear whether this project is part of Colenso BBDO’s remit, but with the amount of discussion this controversial decision generated when it was announced and the desire for Skycity to be loved, it seems likely that this was a catalyst. 

According to the Herald, Skycity Entertainment Group “made revenue of $465.1 million (down 4.6 percent on the previous corresponding period) and normalised net profit of $66.4 million in the six months to December 31, 2013.” That was down 11 percent on the same time last year. 

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