Yellow gives DDB a glimmer of hope, but stands firmly by its creative man

Yellow has just pinned its new digital, hyperlocal colours to the mast with the launch of Yellow Local. As has been the case for around three years, Colenso was responsible for coming up with the creative and wooing the users, while Rapp/Tribal, which has been working with Yellow for almost two years, took care of the direct and digital grunt work. But there’s been a new, albeit rather small development in Yellow’s advertising mix, after DDB was handed some project work.Yellow’s marketing director Kellie Nathan says “it’s not such a big story for her.” It’s a small project involving radio and press to help promote the Yellow Network, an ongoing scheme that attempts to engage with smaller businesses and get them to sign on. In essence, it’s about getting Rapp/Tribal to tack a few above-the-line ideas onto a direct campaign, so there’s certainly no shift of accounts. She says it’s about finding the right agency to do the right job and, because Rapp/Tribal worked on the campaign last year, it made sense to leverage some of the creative skills available in the same building.

Nathan took umbrage at an NBR article yesterday claiming the decision to give the work to DDB was similar to the marketing approach Air New Zealand has famously—and controversially—embraced in recent times. She says she certainly not open to offers from different agencies and she has just two major agency partners.

While working with DDB for the first time might not be a big story for Nathan, it’s probably slightly bigger news for DDB. After losing the ANZ business to TBWA after a realignment, it also failed to make it through to the finals in the NZ Post pitch and also lost out to Ogilvy for the Auckland Council and ATEED Rugby World Cup work, so, even though it’s small, agencies always tend to see a glimmer of hope and believe further, larger riches might come their way if they do a good job.

As for Colenso, everyone knows it has taken numerous trips up to various podiums around the world to collect awards for it work with Yellow in the past few years after it won the account from Saatchi & Saatchi. There’s no doubt the Yellow Treehouse and, to a slightly lesser degree, Yellow Chocolate, were novel, interesting and integrated ideas, but it was hard for everyone not to notice that while they were off concocting wonderous creative campaigns, Yellow’s finances were in a particularly parlous state (Bill Bernbach’s quote comes to mind: nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising).

Of course, the counter argument is asking what would happen if they hadn’t done anything. What kind of state would the company be in now?

As far as Nathan is concerned, Colenso did an amazing job under difficult circumstances. Nothing in the product mix had changed; “there was no new catfood to launch”. So it was a pure—and extremely difficult—advertising brief that required the agency to come up with a way to drag Yellow into the modern age and “make it seem more digital”.

“People will naturally go ‘but revenue is down’ and I get that. But you need to understand the brief,” she says.

The NBR story also suggested the decision to give the work to DDB was based on Colenso’s lack of effectiveness and was driven by the new chief executive Scott Pomeroy, who replaced Bruce Cotterill in February, but Nathan totally disputes both these assertions.

After all, she says Colenso has won the most effective agency title at the EFFIES two years in a row and, added to that, there is a huge amount of research to prove the link between creativity and effectiveness.

As for Yellow Local, Nathan says the launch campaign has been very well-received and, by tapping into the idea of user-generated content, she says there’s a sense of excitement about the potential. She thinks it’s hit the right tone and loves the fact that it includes real people from around Auckland (there were 50 or 60 15 second clips recorded in total).

She says it has had Local on its roadmap for around 12-18 months, but the launch of Localist sped that process up.




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