The Monkeys wins Holden SUV creative account as brand admits it has gotten ‘lost in the mix’ of its competitors

Holden has appointed The Monkeys to launch its new Holden SUV, Equinox, Mumbrella can reveal.

Mark Harland, director of marketing and customer experience at Holden told Mumbrella automotive marketing in Australia had become unremarkable, with the once-meaningful Holden brand getting lost in the mix.

Incumbent agency AJF Partnership will remain on the roster and take responsibility for the motor company’s retail creative account.

Harland told Mumbrella there was an opportunity for the brand to do more emotional advertising

“You still need to do rational but you do rational once people already have you on their shopping list and are already considering their final two or three choices,” he said.

“When I came in in January I noticed advertising across the automotive space was pretty unremarkable in terms of no one really stood out, no one was really doing a great job and no one was doing a really poor job, I thought it was just a lot of the same stuff.

“Part of that is we are to blame as the clients because we just brief that – part of that is I don’t think the agencies are really pushing the boundaries in the automotive space,” he said.

Harland said Holden is focusing on “re-shaping” the brand and bringing in new thinking to break through an already crowded automotive market.

“Holden used to mean something, Holden was very emotional in Australia – you were either red or blue, you were either Ford or Holden – and somewhere along the way we have gotten lost in the mix, so what I want to do is bring Holden back and get some emotional responses and it may not all be positive but it will be emotional,” he continued.

Marketing to women will also be a focus with the brand aspiring to market to women in a way they would like to be spoken to.

“When it comes to a mid-size SUV, which is the next chapter for Holden, I want to nail it with women.

“The challenge to our new creative agency is we really want to get it right with women but we also don’t want to drive away men, but it is women first and foremost.

“The whole industry is playing in this rational space, there has been a few brands that have dabbled in this emotional space, but really focusing on the emotional space and really focusing on a self-assured confident woman who is going to make a decision for herself and or for her family is a great opportunity,” he said.

Although focusing on women for its new SUV Equinox model, Harland said Holden still wants to “hold onto those guys who have been very passionate about us for years” and there is still a different conversation to be had with them, “but the conversation we are not [yet] having is with this whole group of women”.

The Holden account win is the first Melbourne client for the agency and is the first win for The Monkeys since it was bought by global professional services company Accenture in May, a deal which was later revealed to be worth $63m.

Harland said The Monkeys’ partnership with Accenture was appealing to the company and was “an important decision factor”.

“What Accenture then brings is the capability of the data, understanding the data and really getting into the insights around that consumer and target audience, they also bring a wealth of experience around the customer experience piece.

“The agency that we are going with is bringing those two worlds together.”

Harland thanked the agencies involved in the pitch noting Publicis, who was the second-last agency standing in the pitch, made it a “tough decision”.

He said AJF Partnership had done fantastic work for Holden and they do “a really good job of meeting our needs but I think it is always healthy after a number of years to bring in some new thinking”.

The Equinox model is set to launch later this year.

Mark Harland will be speaking at Mumbrella’s Automotive Marketing Summit on 23 August in Sydney, along with a host of other speakers including president and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand, Graeme Whickman. For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here



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