Vodafone dumps Host for Ogilvy, Host boss pays tribute to ‘tough client’

Ogilvy has displaced Host as Vodafone’s creative agency.

A Vodafone spokeperson told Mumbrella the switch was driven by “cost efficiencies” and the desire to align to the brand with Ogilvy, which the telco works with in other markets.

The decision was made without a pitch.

Redundancies at Host are likely as a result, the agency’s boss Anthony Freedman has said.

The news comes one month after the telco announced a major shake-up of its marketing function. On the day of the announcement Vodafone told Mumbrella there were “no plans” to change the agencies it worked with.

The announcement from Vodafone:

Vodafone today announced it has appointed Ogilvy Sydney as its creative agency.

Jana Kotatko, General Manager of Brand and Communications at Vodafone, said, “As part of a number of commercial efficiency measures, we have taken the decision to appoint Ogilvy Sydney as our creative agency.

“WPP is a partner of Vodafone worldwide, and we look forward to working side-by-side with STW and Ogilvy Sydney to bring a centralised and consistent focus across brand and communications at Vodafone.”

“We would like to thank Host, an extraordinary creative agency who has been an incredible partner for Vodafone over the last two years.”

Ogilvy will start work in the coming months, after a handover from Host.

Host’s Anthony Freedman said in a statement:

It’s disappointing to see a client loss as a result of a global alignment but I doubt we will be the last agency to see business lost under these circumstances.”

It is unlikely that we will absorb the loss of Vodafone without some implications for our team but the extent of this is not yet clear. Fortunately we have had several recent new business wins which will allow us to redeploy people.

Vodafone has a reputation for being a tough client and in many ways this is true. But there are some great people over there who we have very much enjoyed working with, and we wish them all the very best.


  1. Mrs C
    29 Feb 12
    11:01 am

  2. I hope they do a better job than those god awful ads with whats-his-face from the secret life of us. also, if they could fix the vodafone network that’d be tops. kthxbai

  3. Andrea
    29 Feb 12
    11:05 am

  4. Vodafone has switched agencies AGAIN?

  5. new business at last
    29 Feb 12
    11:14 am

  6. Finally a win up in St.Leonards! good work Tom

  7. Davo
    29 Feb 12
    11:25 am

  8. Another bandaid solution for vodafone that really won’t achieve anything. If they spent more money on their network than they did on advertising they wouldn’t need to advertise as much!

    Changing agencies every 2 years only makes matters worse. They need to start from the ground up, work properly with an agency and actually listen to them and stick with them to see it through.

    Oh and getting rid of the CEO would probably be a good start seeing as though he presided over the massive Hutchison customer integration failures that got them into this mess in the first place.

  9. Spin doctor
    29 Feb 12
    11:42 am

  10. Global realignment?? Hardly seems likely when Vodafone NZ awarded their account to DraftFCB (a non Wpp company) last week.

  11. Sarah
    29 Feb 12
    11:51 am

  12. Davo, I second your third point re. the CEO!!!

  13. Commercial Efficiency
    29 Feb 12
    11:53 am

  14. Jana Kotatko, you always get what you pay for.

  15. rob
    29 Feb 12
    11:55 am

  16. @new business at last

    I’m a fan of Tom’s, but how is a global alignment driven by “cost efficiencies” attributable to his good work?

  17. Mrs C
    29 Feb 12
    11:57 am

  18. What Davo said

  19. Billy C
    29 Feb 12
    12:16 pm

  20. I was with Vodafone for over ten years. I have a family member who was once told her was in the top twenty for longest customers. Both of us are with other carriers now. They were perfectly fine for a long time but when the reception got bad we left. No amount of advertising is going to fix the fact the nobody will recommend them.

  21. fail
    29 Feb 12
    12:18 pm

  22. They abandon agencies like they abandon ad campaigns judging by the plethora of mixed messages they send to market.
    Start your 2 year clock now Ogilvy.
    And perhaps think about a night shift changeover for all your staff that will be expected to deliver over many long hours to account for the disorganisation and chaos of your new client. That ‘reputation’ is not a rumour.

  23. Inevitable
    29 Feb 12
    12:30 pm

  24. Sales have their hands on marketing now at Voda which is what they’ve always wanted. Stand by for lots of shouty offers, more direct marketing and no brand work.

  25. bitten and shy
    29 Feb 12
    12:34 pm

  26. having had the pleasure of working with Voda several agencies ago – so that could be at either JWT, STW, Clemenger or Host – all I can say to the team at Ogilvy is good luck.
    Davo is right – one of the best performing Vodafone’s in the world is in India – they have been with the same agencies (both creative and media) for about a decade now. No amount of agency changing can make up for a poor business and stumbling management.

  27. Great move
    29 Feb 12
    12:42 pm

  28. Probably a great move from what I can see, the STW Group have some very talented Data and Mobile driven people on board.

  29. rob
    29 Feb 12
    1:14 pm

  30. @ Great move do the STW Group also have some talented engineers and mobile network specialists on board to do the actual work that will make a difference to customer acquisition and retention as referred to by others in this thread?

    voda agency moves a game of deck chairs on the titanic it seems

  31. DM defender
    29 Feb 12
    1:43 pm

  32. Inevitable –

    On behalf of all dm lovers, I resent being lumped in with ‘shouty offers’ and ‘no brand work’. DM has its place, like all channels, and your old-fashioned views need – well, reviewing.

  33. Inevitable
    29 Feb 12
    1:56 pm

  34. DM defender – you can make no such assumptions from what I’ve written and you have no call to be defensive. You’ve got no idea what my experience of DM is (as it happens, a lot). I’m a big fan of DM when its done well and is relevant to objectives. My point is that acquisition, will be Vodafone’s only objective, to it’s longer term detriment.

  35. Great move
    29 Feb 12
    1:59 pm

  36. @rob No they don’t, however I think you will find Huawei does.

  37. Groucho
    29 Feb 12
    2:25 pm

  38. From my experience of Global agencies ‘Global re-alignment’ is frequently code for “you will take this shit client, lose money on it and pretend you like it”

    Bend over folks, and take one for the team.

  39. Gus
    29 Feb 12
    2:31 pm

  40. Condolences to Ogilvy on the win.
    Sadly the cost it will have in demotivating your teams is unlikely to be offset by the tiny margin, if any that will be left over after the work goes out. Working on Voda was a great career lesson for me. I now walk away from clients who show little understanding, commitment or support for building a great customer experience or brand (and don’t recognise the two are interlinked). Life’s too short. Anthony’s right – there are some great people at Voda, but I see why he added the word “some.”

  41. DM defender
    29 Feb 12
    3:04 pm

  42. Inevitable-

    Well in that case we agree and it’s just a question of miscommunication. Good job you don’t work in a creative department.

  43. Devil's advocaat
    29 Feb 12
    3:10 pm

  44. Hmmm.

    Vodafone lost 554,000 customers last year and it’s not because of their advertising.


    Of course, they did keep telling everyone that their network had improved so much but everyone’s phones told them otherwise.

    I didn’t like their desperate social media ‘meet the engineers upgrading the network’ ruse.

    Good luck to Ogilvy spinning it from now on.

  45. rob
    29 Feb 12
    3:21 pm

  46. @ Groucho i have seen the same situation……while the holding companies demand something like 30% of income be sent up the line to head office while holding head counts static in subsidiary markets, the tension of expanding (local) client demands and limited agency resources leads to sweat-shop conditions for those poor saps working on the business, or engagement of freelancers to avoid increasing official head count, which of course kills profitability.

    eventually this tension will lead to the downfall of expensive subsidiary markets such as Australia for global accounts, and make way for places like Bangalore and the Philippines to do local execution in this region.

    this is happening right now……only the independents can operate without this rod.

  47. AdGrunt
    29 Feb 12
    3:34 pm

  48. Groucho and Gus are close to the money, I suspect.

    “Tough client” is usually a coded way of saying “brand-clueless, price-driven, retail-focused, reactive, self-defeating, unique personality, client”

    On the other hand, as Peugeot found out, Tom won’t suffer fools gladly.

  49. jim
    29 Feb 12
    5:08 pm

  50. there are some clients you should not take on no matter how big the discount they are after.

  51. Pitch Doctor
    29 Feb 12
    5:51 pm

  52. Working on Vodafone and Deliverance have something in common……………and it aint banjos.

  53. Betty
    29 Feb 12
    6:44 pm

  54. Tom Moult is a great adman and also a great boss – its quite often rare these 2 qualities go together.

    Having come from a agency where no senior management ever spoke to the people at the coalface and were famous for their extremely unfriendly manner (I’ll let you guess which multinational it was) to moving to an agency where Tom worked and having him come in for a chat and to say hello in my first few weeks was a big change.

    I assumed I must have fucked up something massive if the big boss was coming into my area, but he was actually just saying hi and being a nice guy.

    Go Tom!

  55. Derrick
    29 Feb 12
    6:45 pm

  56. Changing agencies on a regular basis means you are the problem, not the agency.

    Pretty soon Vodafone will be less liked to work on than Telstra (if that is possible)

  57. John Grono
    29 Feb 12
    8:03 pm

  58. Apparently the decision was made last week but the coverage was so poor at St. Leonards that it took a few days for the call to get through.

  59. bitten and shy
    1 Mar 12
    9:24 am

  60. @ John Grono – GOLD !