NSW government restructures media planning and buying, appointing new roster of agencies to $80m account

The NSW government has restructured how it uses agencies to plan and buy media, appointing WPP AU/NZ to its master media exchange account and extending the responsibilities of its rostered agencies, which now includes OMD, UM, Havas Media and Atomic 212, a NSW government spokesperson confirmed to Mumbrella.


WPP will be responsible for rate negotiations, non-campaign activities and whole-of-government expenditure reporting, while the other rostered agencies will now be able to execute campaigns from start to finish, including strategy, planning and buying.

NSW government media expenditure. Source: NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

Previously, the government’s main agency was UM, which was responsible for “the purchase and placement of all NSW government public awareness advertising, including health and road safety messages, tourism promotion and other government announcements”, according to the Department of Premier and Cabinet. UM also “negotiate[d] media rates on behalf of all NSW government departments”.

Recruitment and public notice advertisements previously went through Zenith, using its online booking system ADCell.

The NSW government also previously noted Blue449 (formerly Match Media), Optimum Media Direction (OMD) and Mediacom could help government departments with their media planning, with information on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website explaining: “NSW government departments should directly engage the agency that best suits their needs when it comes to strategic media planning services for public awareness campaigns. Departments can consult each of the agencies listed to inquire about their ways of working, current workloads and expertise, however a competitive pitch process is strongly discouraged as these agencies have already undergone a thorough tender process to be appointed to the panel.”

Now, WPP has the master media exchange account, but OMD, Havas, UM and Atomic 212 will be solely responsible for the campaigns they work on from start to finish.

A NSW government spokesperson told Mumbrella the new structure came about because it made sense and was simpler.

The value of the NSW government’s media spend consistently declined between FY2008 and FY2014, falling from $116.3m to $53.3m. It began climbing again in FY15, and last financial year the NSW government spent just over $84m.

Some of the biggest government agency spenders last financial year were Transport for NSW ($30.783m), the Cancel Institute ($10.16m), Destination NSW ($7.41m), TAFE Commission ($6.04m), Environment Protection Authority ($3.397m) and Ministry of Health ($3.08m).

The most expensive campaign undertaken in the 2017 financial year included Tomorrow’s Sydney for Transport for NSW ($4.210m), Semester One ($3.445m) and Semester Two ($1.385m) for TAFE NSW ($3.445m), Hey Tosser for the Environment and Protection Authority ($2.942m), Mistakes for Transport for NSW ($2.290m), Drug Driving for Transport for NSW ($2.289m), Fatigue for Transport for NSW ($2.047m), Hero & Positioning for Transport for NSW ($1.961m), Heal for NSW Health ($1.905m), Plan B for Transport for NSW ($1.837m), Motorcycling Risk Management for Transport for NSW ($1.558m) Towards Zero for Transport for NSW ($1.508m).

In May, the NSW government opened the tender for its media agency services, revealing it was searching for agencies which can “secure a better way of working and delivering effective advertising messages.”

The state government said it was hoping to become more efficient in media buying and planning through technology, with “transparency” and “efficiency in resource and fee structure key to the winning agency’s success.

“The objective is to deliver a successful media planning and buying service that is structured effectively and appropriately to meet the current and future advertising needs of the individual government departments and agencies, and that best represents the NSW government.”


The NSW government’s announcement comes just one day after the Victorian government handed its $75m media account to Mediacom from incumbent Dentsu Mitchell.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.