AKQA and Emotive surprise contenders as shortlist for Optus media and creative emerges

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 12.42.48 pmThe list of contenders lining up for a slice of Optus’ marketing budgets has emerged, with branded content creators Emotive and digitally-centred creative agency AKQA the wildcard entrants in the process.

As Mumbrella revealed in June the telco has been conducting a review of its creative and media accounts which put a number of agencies on alert.

While the telco is entertaining several agencies on its creative roster it is understood the media pitch is a three-way fight between incumbents Starcom, Havas Media and UM.

On the creative side the inclusion of Emotive and AKQA suggests the telco may look to parcel off pieces of the business, or create a deeper roster of specialists to engage on a project-by-project basis.

They will line up against incumbent M&C Saatchi and Ogilvy, which holds the Optus business account and works with Optus’ parent company Singtel in Asia for a spot on the main roster.

It is also understood independent agency The Works, which currently has a spot on the roster, is in the running for another part of the business against a number of other digital agencies.

The Works landed the direct marketing account for Optus in February beating M&C’s Lida.

All agencies contacted declined to comment, but it is understood there have been a series of agency briefings in recent days for the shortlisted contenders.

emotive logoThe inclusion of Emotive on the creative list signals the telco may be considering switching more of its marketing budget to social content after the success of its Netflix launch campaign starring comedian Ricky Gervais.

The agency worked for the telco earlier this year as it looked to launch its Netflix bundled offering with a content spot featuring Ricky Gervais as an ‘anti-brand ambassador’ which got global attention and is understood to have been one of the telco’s most successful campaigns in recent years.

The campaign also won a Bronze Cyber Lion at this year’s Cannes advertising festival. 

AKQA’s inclusion on the list signals the global powerhouse agency is finally set to make a long-rumoured push into Australia. The news coincides with a visit to Australia by the agency’s US managing director Simon Jefferson, who is speaking at the ADMA Global Forum in Sydney.

AKQA-Logo.svg-1Founded in 1994 in London the agency employs around 2,000 staff worldwide and has offices across Europe, India, China and Japan, and now styles itself as an “idea and innovation company” which works with clients to reshape their business.

It boasts brands including Nike, Verizon, and Hermes amongst others, and is owned by WPP, the world’s largest marketing holding company which owns or has stakes in several agencies including JWT, VML, DT and Mindshare locally.

Asked whether the agency was looking to set up in Sydney in a recent interview with AdNews Jefferson said: “We tend to open offices in places that we see huge future potential or as a result of new opportunities with existing/new clients. If any client is interested in collaborating with us here in Australia, we could be convinced.”

M&C has held the account for the last 11 years, and in the three years since it last renewed the contract has overseen the brand ditching its animals positioning in favour of the ‘Yes’ proposition, most recently using Josh Thomas as a brand ambassador.

It has also worked with Optus on the Clever Buoy shark detector initiative which has picked up global awards, which could make any parting of the ways of the two companies more complicated because of intellectual property arrangements.

It is unclear whether the agency looked to enter the media pitch, having thrown its hat in the ring for the media account on the Commonwealth Bank’s media review last year, which it also holds as a creative client.

ogilvy logoOgilvy has had a torrid time in Australia the last few years, losing its hold on the Vodafone account last year. However, the agency group’s deep ties to the Singapore-based Singtel parent are understood to be a big factor in its favour in the current process.

On the media side the account is understood to be more focussed on the traditional buying structures, with Optus conducting its digital buys through its wholly-owned subsidiary Amobee.

Despite that the company is still one of the biggest spenders in the country with Nielsen reporting a main media spend of $49m in the year ending in May this year.

Starcom picked up the account in the last big review which concluded in 2012, while UM may fancy its chances if Optus looks to employ more diverse agency arrangements, having recently repositioned itself as a creative content agency.

Alex Hayes & Nic Christensen


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