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.


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