Vodafone returns to WPP as J. Walter Thompson wins telco

Just three months after being dumped by Cummins & Partners, and just weeks after an internal restructure that saw sales and marketing brought under the same leadership, Vodafone will hand the local business back to its global partner WPP with J. Walter Thompson winning the business.

Ben McIntosh has overseen the review.

The move marks a return to the globally aligned holding company which is used by the telco around the rest of the world.

Vodafone and WPP parted ways just over two years ago when Ogilvy – appointed two years previously – declined to re-pitch for the business and Cummin’s & Partners emerged victorious.

Part of Cummins success was predicated on the agency setting up an office in Sydney.

Last year, Group M picked up the telco’s media account in a global alignment with WPP, but Group M announced at the time that there would be no Team Red in Australia.

In January the departure of CMO Loo Fun Chee sparked a restructure of Vodafone’s marketing , appointing director of sales, Ben McIntosh in the newly created role of consumer business director, aligning sales and marketing under a single structure.

The restructure also brings Vodafone in Australia into line with the business around the globe where sales and marketing are a combined unit.

The appointment of WPP back to the business marks Vodafone’s fifth creative partner in six years.

In  a statement McIntosh insisted that the appointment was for the long term.

“We have selected JWT via our long-term relationship with WPP as Vodafone’s full service marketing communications agency,” McIntosh said.

He pledged the account will not longer be plagued by the instability and cultural challenges that have seen the account change hands multiple times in the past decade.

“We believe JWT has brought together a formidable team that will help position Vodafone as a real alternative in the telecommunications market,” he said.

“Having everything housed under WPP provides the added benefit of enabling us to coordinate our efforts to be more agile, responsive and smart in our approach to reaching customers, consumers and businesses.”

At the same time he is expected to simplify and localise Vodafone’s local communications while working within the telco’s global brand guidelines.

Mike Connaghan says Vodafone will have access to all of WPPAUNZ’s expertise.

WPP CEO Mike Connaghan said that while the account would sit with JWT, the brand would have access to “best of breed” experts from across the group.

“This is a great example of our strategy in action,” Connaghan said.

“It’s about bringing together the best people and thinking from across our group to create better, smarter ideas to grow their business.”

While a number of agencies signalled that they would not be chasing the Vodafone business, Vodafone’s McIntosh said the brand had still been overwhelmed by the response when the account went to pitch.


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