Optus retains M&C Saatchi, dumps MPG; MPG boss: ‘No question of the MPG brand stopping its operations in Australia’

One of the longest pitches in recent memory, Optus, has ended in relief for ad agency incumbent M&C Saatchi and misery for MPG, which has lost the media business after nine years of service.

However, the pitch, which lasted ten months and cost agencies an estimated 8,000 man hours, will not mean the end of the MPG brand in Australia, a Havas spokesperson has told Mumbrella.

MPG, whose staff and clients resourced the re-launch of Aegis Media agency Vizeum in January, is 80% owned by Aegis and 20% by Havas, the French communications group that fully owns the MPG brand in other markets.

Havas Media’s Asia Pacific CEO Vishnu Mohan told Mumbrella: “There is absolutely no question of the MPG brand stopping its operations in Australia. We are a global network with a presence in 122 markets through the brands that we have across mainstream media, digital, mobile and sports & entertainment.”

He added: “The importance we place on the Australian market is well evident in our recent acquisition of Host. As a group, we are in constant exploration of opportunities in all our markets that will continue to help us upscale and upgrade our global presence and capabilities through the many brands that we have as part of our service offering.”

The announcement was made today that Starcom would replace MPG as the telco’s media agency.

MPG Australia said in a statement: “MPG and Media Contacts have worked with the SingTel team for more than nine years and while of course we’re disappointed not to retain the business, a partnership as lengthy as this is a great achievement. MPG and Media Contacts have been fortunate to work on some outstanding campaigns with SingTel over the years and are very proud of what we’ve achieved with the SingTel team during that time. We wish them all the best in the future.”

A statement from the advertiser read:

Optus today announced the selection of M&C Saatchi as its creative advertising agency and Starcom as its media buying agency, following a comprehensive competitive review. Starcom will also manage Optus’ wholly owned subsidiary, Virgin Mobile Australia’s media buying requirements.

Michael Smith, Optus Corporate Marketing Director said, “We are delighted to announce that M&C Saatchi and Starcom have been selected as our two strategic advertising partners following a rigorous review.

“During the eight years we have worked together, M&C Saatchi has demonstrated a deep understanding of the Optus brand. As we evolve from being a traditional telco to a leading provider of next-generation communication, infotainment and technology services, building an even greater Optus brand is fundamental to our long-term success. We believe M&C Saatchi is the agency best placed to help us establish a clearer, differentiated brand position.

“We are also very excited to welcome Starcom to the Optus family. Their strong leadership and fresh approach make them a great partner to have on board as we transform our business and reinvigorate the Optus brand.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to also thank MPG for their commitment to Optus over the last eight years,” Mr Smith said.

The news comes as a relief for M&C Saatchi, which has faced a number of big reviews recently, parting ways with one Australia’s largest advertisers, Woolworths, earlier this month.

M&C’s global chairman Tom Dery said: “It is gratifying to have this opportunity to continue our long relationship with Optus. Optus continues to challenge in the dynamic telco industry. An industry that has experienced phenomenal growth and change in the past decade.”

“Retaining this account continues a period of sustained growth for the agency that augers very well for the future,” he added.


  1. Fan Girl
    30 Mar 12
    12:15 pm

  2. Kudos to Team Tom.

    You guys absolutely deserved to keep this account.

  3. Ouch!
    30 Mar 12
    12:16 pm

  4. Another big dent in the Aegis/Mitchells alliance!

  5. VJ
    30 Mar 12
    12:27 pm

  6. Not a bad follow up to snaffling CommBank, oh, and Etihad.

  7. Jono
    30 Mar 12
    12:55 pm

  8. So after a pitch that went for more than a year we’re back where we started. It’s always tougher retaining business than winning it. You do gotta hand it to M&C, there’s good reason they’re the biggest agency with the biggest clients.

  9. Mike
    30 Mar 12
    1:01 pm

  10. Wow, M&C’s still got it, literally.

  11. rob
    30 Mar 12
    1:10 pm

  12. 8,000 man hours spent pitching and i’ll punt there’ll be more of the same rubbishy corporate dross trotted out by the client post-pitch.

    why don’t these clients accept they get the advertising they deserve no matter which agency they work with and cut to the chase during the pitch process – start and end with price. saves the extended beauty parade and waste of everyone’s time.

    oh, and i read just the other day that Optus have restructured their entire marketing department – great timing to conclude the pitch process with an entirely revamped internal marketing team. well-planned optus.

  13. Sammy
    30 Mar 12
    1:12 pm

  14. Big ups M&C.

  15. not cool
    30 Mar 12
    1:16 pm

  16. lets be honest here , it was a fight to the bottom price war.

  17. Ken
    30 Mar 12
    1:58 pm

  18. Sparks will fly – out the door.

  19. Jono Key
    30 Mar 12
    2:22 pm

  20. Nice work Starcom !

  21. Jo
    30 Mar 12
    2:29 pm

  22. Watch out for flying corks in Macquarie St.

  23. Sara
    30 Mar 12
    2:42 pm

  24. I’m not surprised M&C retained Optus – the surprise was that Optus even pitched out to start with. I’ve always found the Optus advertising and branding very appealing – more so than any of the other telecom companies – so I would have thought it was a good idea to stick with the status quo and be ready when the audience starts to tire.

  25. nick williams
    30 Mar 12
    2:51 pm

  26. fair play to M&C, whatever people say about money and deals, to retain their biggest client after such a mammoth pitch is a big achievement

  27. James Norquay
    30 Mar 12
    2:54 pm

  28. Starcom is located in Walsh Bay ~ Windmill Street not Macquarie Street.

    This was a very involved pitch process, congrats to Starcom good luck with it.

  29. Ungh?!
    30 Mar 12
    3:35 pm

  30. M&C is in Macquarie Street, nimwit.

  31. An outsider
    30 Mar 12
    4:49 pm

  32. Well done to Starcom, a very long process but the best won out in the end! Congrats!

  33. Sue
    30 Mar 12
    7:14 pm

  34. It’s not the ad agency they need to replace – it’s their law firm

    Copping a $5 million fine for misleading and deceptive conduct last year is unforgivable as it was so predictable.

    The management of Optus as well should hang their head in shame.


    That’s a lot of mobile phones and plans they have to flog to make $5 million in profit.

  35. Ann
    30 Mar 12
    7:16 pm

  36. Can’t be as long as the wearing down Woolworths pitches

  37. James Norquay
    30 Mar 12
    8:09 pm

  38. We are a bit old for name calling “ungh” Was merely making a point to your open ended comment.

  39. Jake
    30 Mar 12
    9:36 pm

  40. MPG and Starcom are next to each other in Walsh Bay. They can both go to the same pub to celebrate / commiserate.

  41. ungh_2
    30 Mar 12
    10:13 pm

  42. u might be old but youre also a nimwit… we were talking about m&c

  43. Grant
    31 Mar 12
    8:55 pm

  44. 8000 hours? That is disgusting, what a waste – and I thought working with “another large telco” was a disaster!

  45. 8000 Hours?
    2 Apr 12
    1:05 pm

  46. Optus sounds like a lot of work for not much ROI. Don’t know whether to congratulate or commiserate with M&C and Starcom

  47. Logic
    2 Apr 12
    1:27 pm

  48. No one believes the 8,000 hours claim surely …

  49. Felicity
    3 Apr 12
    9:05 pm

  50. Working for Optus’ agency is 1000 times better than working as one of Telstra’s roster of agency’s

  51. Grant
    4 Apr 12
    9:27 pm

  52. @Felicity

    That’s what I wanted to say but I thought that I might be censored :)