One vs. many: Courtney Lambert on why New Zealand needs a mixed agency model to reach its growth targets

The way that New Zealand is marketed to the world is on the table again with Hon Steven Joyce releasing ‘Building Export Markets – first progress report on Business Growth Agenda‘ last week. It’s a big brief and I disagree with the idea that one agency should be appointed to the project. A mixed agency model such as the one used by Proctor and Gamble and proposed in the Marketing Media Ecosystem 2010 study provides a far more effective proposition.

In its simplest form, the model works like a building construction project where a project manager acts as a central hub and coordinates work across multiple agencies. In this way, specialist skills are harnessed to bring about the best results for business. Not all agencies are competent (let alone excel) across all sectors and media formats. But a mixed agency model solves this issue.

Examples of New Zealand export businesses in the report include Beca consulting and Zespri. The two businesses are clearly quite different in terms of both offer and target audience. Other examples include Icebreaker in retail and Altitude Aerospace in B2B aviation. Another important goal of the export strategy is to “incorporate New Zealand’s unique Māori cultural dimension to enhance the value of the New Zealand story.”

There is not one agency in New Zealand that can deliver the best marketing solution for all New Zealand export businesses, let alone one that can tell The New Zealand Story across all media formats in global markets. 

It’s important that we get this right and don’t hark back to the ‘let’s put a silver fern on a wine bottle’ days. Rapidly developing new media technologies such as those developed by Facebook and Google allow New Zealand to export our products and stories globally without the prohibitive above-the-line media costs of standard marketing programmes.  

In the same way that Weta has created jobs and developed an international market for film services, New Zealand’s marketing and communications industries need the cash injection and commercial opportunities to grow our people and businesses. A mixed-agency model can achieve this.

  • Courtney Lambert advises businesses on digital marketing.



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