Telstra axes BWM

Ad agency BWM has lost Telstra – its biggest account. The announcement came in a notice from parent company Photon Group to the ASX.

The ASX announcement said the account was worth $10m-15m. The contract will be terminated at the end of July.

Shares in Photon immediately plunged by 6%, taking the company’s stock below 5c for the first time. Photon now has a market capitalisation of just $80m. its shares are now worth less than half the level they were at the time of the company’s emergency recapitalisation late last year.

BWM’s best known ad for Telstra was the “rabbits” Big Pond campaign, which made the name of Telstra marketer Amanda Johnston-Pell who departed the organisation last year. BWM had also been clsoe to former Big Pond chief Justin Milne who also left last year.

The firing of BWM is the most dramatic change to the Telstra roster since the arrival of new chief marketing officer Mark Buckman and new creativity head Mark Collis.

Earlier this month Photon warned that its profits were likely to be down 19% in its agencies division “largely driven by lower spending by a small number of large clients”.  

BWM issued the following statement:

After eight years of highly successful campaigns across a range of products and services for Telstra, Sydney agency Belgiovane Williams Mackay will end its association with the client on July 31.

The agency created a string of memorable ad campaigns, including the famous “Patrick and Daniel” campaign for BigPond, the hugely effective ‘Call your mum’ campaign to increase usage and successfully re-introduced the Erncorp campaign for Telstra business.

“It’s a brilliant innings by anyone’s standards and Telstra is a fantastic client that understands the power of starting conversations. The work was highly successful for them in terms of business results as well as creative and effectiveness awards,” said BWM CEO Paul Williams

“We’ve had a great run working with them and we wish them the best going forward.”

BWM Executive Creative Director Rob Belgiovane added: “Our Patrick and Daniel campaigns for BigPond triggered one of Australia’s first social media dialogue across all demographics and, importantly, was loved by the Australian public, who voted BigPond ‘Rabbits’ the country’s favourite ad in both 2007and 2008.”

Other awards for Telstra work include two Gold and two Silver Effies for effectiveness, five Cannes finalists, a Silver and a finalist at New York Festivals, two Silver and one Bronze AWARD Awards, a highly commended and four finalists in Caxtons, two Silvers at ADMA, a gold and two Firsts at Mobius and the Grand Prix at the APG Planning awards.

BWM has this year won $50m in new business billings including the Kmart account, Selley’s, and Department of Health and Ageing.

“With the new business gains in Melbourne and Sydney we will be able to keep redundancies to a minimum,” said Williams.

Responsibilities on the roster over the last 18 months were mostly limited to Telstra Business.


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