STW to start ‘new agency’ under Pat Crowley to defend CommBank as M&C Saatchi enters pitch

Pat Crowley

Pat Crowley

The Commonwealth Bank media pitch is shaping up to be the most hotly contested in recent years with at least two curveball entries coming via the STW Group and M&C Saatchi, Mumbrella can reveal.

STW Communications has confirmed Pat Crowley, who led the CommBank account for Ikon for more than five years, has rejoined the “Ikon STW Group”. Mumbrella understands the surprise rehiring will see him launch a new agency that will pitch for the account, which was the foundation client for Ikon when it launched in 1999.

Crowley left the agency to join Match Media just three months ago.

In another surprise move it is understood M&C Saatchi, which handles the bank’s creative account, is also throwing its hat into the ring for the media account, offering to open a media business in an attempt to provide a full-service offering. 

M&C Saatchi declined to comment on whether they were submitting for the pitch which will see first submissions go in this Friday.

“Pat Crowley is an Ikonoclast through and through. He defines the spirit of consistently challenging the status quo to find a better way for our Clients. We’re thrilled to have him back as part of the wider Ikon STW family,” said Ikon’s CEO James Greet in a statement.

Crowley commented: “The CBA Group has been a big part of my professional career and to have the opportunity to focus all of my efforts on leading them and the team on the exciting next stage of their media journey is something I could not afford to miss.”

STW Group and M&C Saatchi will face off against a broad field which is thought to include OMD, ZenithOptimedia and Carat.

It is also understood IPG Mediabrands has entered the pitch, although it is unclear whether its larger agency UM, which has online bank ING Direct as a client, or Initiative will line up.

All agencies contacted by Mumbrella have declined to comment on the process.

Sources have told Mumbrella that Crowley’s new agency will be solely dedicated to servicing the Commonwealth Bank business, which according to Nielsen had a media spend in the year to June 2014 of $44.1m. It is thought that the new agency would do its media buying out of the wider WPP group, which has a minority share in STW, to ensure it remains competitive on price.

Should Crowley be unsuccessful in retaining the CBA business then it is understood he will take a senior role at Ikon.

The entry of creative agency M&C Saatchi into the pitch also creates an interesting dynamic, although it is unclear as to whether it will seek to buy a media agency or staff up for the offering internally for one of its largest clients.

Last month Diageo handed its media strategy and buying account to its creative agency Leo Burnett, stripping it from Ikon, with buying to be handled by Mediavest.

Last week Diageo’s marketing director Adam Ballesty admitted the move was fuelled by his frustration with continual clashes over the strategic approach for its stable of brands,  admitting: “What was happening was that we were having one strategy interpreted three or four different times in different channels by different partners.

“What I was sick and tired of was paying for strategy and not seeing my hard-to-get dollars being used to create love and fun for our brands and with our consumers and customers.”

In a statement Match Media’s John Preston said: “I can confirm that Pat has left Match. We are disappointed to see him leave Match after only 11 weeks. He’s a great guy and was a good fit for Match. We wish him all the best.”

Nic Christensen & Alex Hayes


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