Vodafone brings New Zealand into line, officially announces MEC as new media agency

After Vodafone made the decision to move its global media business to MEC earlier this year, it was expected that Vodafone New Zealand would eventually follow suit and, as reported last week in a story about the arrival of GroupM in this market, it was widely known that the handover had already begun. For some strange reason, Vodafone was at pains to point out that nothing had been signed, but it sent through official confirmation today that it is indeed swapping SparkPHD for MEC as its media buying and planning agency in this market. 

Y&R NZ’s website says “Y&R Media represents global media network MEC in the New Zealand market”. While Y&R Media is an integrated offer, it also works with largely international media-only clients under the MEC banner, including Singapore Airlines and Chanel. And the handover has been made slightly spicier given Nicky Greville moved from Spark PHD to Y&R Media in August last year to take up the newly created position of general manager, media. 

The news comes at an interesting time for GroupM, with Mumbrella reporting that the Australian office of Mediacom has come under scrutiny “after it emerged that it had overcharged at least two clients by submitting inflated claims on the TV audiences its campaigns had delivered”. 

In a release, Vodafone paid tribute to SparkPHD, which it has been working with over the last 12 years. 

“We have enjoyed a great working relationship with Spark PHD, evident in the ten plus years we’ve spent collaborating with them,” says Vodafone’s consumer director, Matt Williams. “We are thankful for all their hard work and the innovative and effective media solutions which have delivered great results for Vodafone New Zealand, in what has been a true partnership. We wish them all the very best in the future. The move to MEC presents new opportunity for Vodafone and we really look forward to working with them. In this fast changing media landscape, we can benefit from GroupM’s experience globally and the best practice they develop with other Vodafone markets.”

Back in January, Vodafone announced that it was reviewing its £600 million global media account, which had been held by Omnicom’s OMD for five years. In 2009, when Vodafone last reviewed its global media account, it moved to OMD from Carat, although Spark PHD maintained its hold on the business in New Zealand. 

Vodafone spent $43 million on media in New Zealand last year, according to Nielsen AIS figures (which are based on ratecard value), putting it in tenth spot on the big spenders list

It’s a big loss for Spark PHD, but it has made up some ground after recently being appointed as the media agency in New Zealand for Gold Coast Tourism after a competitive pitch. 

“As with every brief we work on, we put insight-led media creativity at the heart of the pitch development,” said Louise Bond, PHD Group chief executive in a release. “This led to some fantastic new campaign ideas that are sure to drive results in the highly-competitive holiday market.” 

Creatively, New Zealand is thought to be one of the few territories in the world where Vodafone doesn’t work with an aligned WPP agency, with FCB winning the account back in early 2012. So no doubt Y&R NZ would enjoy integrating the Vodafone business a little bit more. 

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