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Embracing the bigger picture

THE flow of advertising accounts from Perth during the past decade looks likely to continue following the recent announcement that MJB&B has lost the account for Perth-based Enjo.

The earlier loss of large accounts including The Swan Brewery, SGIO, and the Challenge Bank, were the result of eastern-States based acquisitions, but the Enjo contract seems to have slipped through the local industry’s grasp despite the company’s head office remaining in WA.

WA Business News understands that the tender for the estimated $5 million account is open to Sydney-based agencies only.

This loss comes when the advertising industry’s biggest client, the State Government, is also cutting back spending in the sector, having announced in 2001 it would slash its advertising budget by 30 per cent.

Enjo’s reasons for wanting the services of a Sydney agency are unclear but the company’s decision has put the spotlight on the need for Perth’s advertising industry to claw back some ground.

Several agencies have sought to make commercial gains by offering new services in order to grow existing business.

But has it been enough?

MJB&B managing director Craig Billings said the loss of the Enjo account, one of its biggest, reinforced the need for his agency to secure accounts that are not based in Perth.

“I think we are going to have to [do that] more and more,” he said. 

“There are a number of situations where a WA agency has picked up a national account.

“We did it with Trivett and greengrocer.com and we did that against the best in Australia, but what we all tend to do is focus on the backyard and have a look down the street.

“We’re now going to have to look at Australia as the backyard.”

303 Advertising director Alan Taylor agrees.

“Nike is based in Michigan but runs its account out of Seattle. They simply choose the best agency. There is no reasons why we shouldn’t be able to do that here,” Mr Taylor said.

Marketforce’s recent appointment of former Saatchi and Saatchi New Zealand creative director Andrew Tinning is further evidence of a push to earn more national accounts.

Marketforce, Perth’s largest agency in terms of billings, has also secured investment from Sydney-based Clemenger Communications.

And while Marketforce managing director John Driscoll said the move reinforced that the Perth market was moving in the right direction, it also provided the agency with a strong strategic alliance on the east coast.

“It certainly gives us more connections on the east coast and the BBDO network worldwide gives us links into Asia,” Mr Driscoll said. 

He suggested that this was evidence that people weren’t giving up on WA.

“There is significant interest in this market by other areas. It has been a record year for Marketforce and some of our clients have grown substantially,” Mr Driscoll said.

The primary objective of hiring Mr Tinning as creative director may have been to service Marketforce’s existing client base, according to Mr Driscoll, but his strong reputation on Australia’s east coast would also help the agency grow its business there.

“He is better known over there and is very highly regarded with clients over there. Our primary consideration was to look after the business here, and a secondary consideration were opportunities that exist outside WA,” Mr Driscoll said.

“Perth is where our business is but through a lot of research I did last year I was quite surprised by how well known Marketforce is on the east coast and the respect that was there for our work. I thought that potentially there are opportunities there, particularly with work for the Federal Government because we are a large Australian agency.”

Working on Federal Government advertising accounts and securing business out of Perth is something that Vinten Browning has been doing with success for the past three years.

Vinten Browning director Steve Browning said the agency made the move to attract more national business about three years ago.

“They are sizeable bits of business,” he said. “I think agencies are realising that they can’t be what they were five or 10 years ago. You can’t sit around and wait for a huge account to come up for grabs and be on a pitch list and go out and pitch.

“It is tough. It’s no longer lucrative and it’s a hard slog. I’m working harder for every dollar than I ever have done.”

Mr Browning said agencies needed to move with the times.

“Everything has changed. People don’t watch television as much as they used to, so to just say ‘we’ll do a TV and press campaign for every client’ is not apt,” he told WA Business News.

“We have to be smarter and the agency that adapts and understands that there are no big budgets will do well wherever they are based.

“The tyranny of distance is gone. Once you have ADSL it doesn’t matter if you are based in Albany.

“Being good is the key; if you have something people want they will come to you. If you are good they will stay with you.

“It’s about developing relationships, not just winning business. Doing a good job will mean you keep the business.

“Ultimately you’ve got to move with the times and stop thinking that the world ends in Darlington and get our own back and talk to eastern States companies.”

Mr Browning said advertising the benefits of doing business in Perth would assist the industry.

 “The production costs are much lower here. If the creative is on par and the production costs are two thirds or half of what they are paying on the east, it makes sense for the client,” he said.

The Brand Agency managing director Ken James said the lack of new business in Perth was a problem and agencies should be aiming to boost business elsewhere.

He said the company was enjoying success on the east coast and internationally through its offices in Melbourne and Auckland.

But The Brand Agency’s move was a result of one of its biggest clients, Bunnings, moving its operations to Victoria.

“When we opened in Melbourne the market [in Perth] was booming,” Mr James said.

“We went there because of the Bunnings group. We submitted against big organisations. But over the past five or six years we’ve been growing the Melbourne operation and it’s strong for us.  We can say we are a national agency, which helps us.”

He said that, while a number of accounts had left the State, there were instances of work coming back into WA.

“We’ve been quite lucky because we’ve brought work back. Red Rooster left some years ago when Myer bought it and they used their agency over east. When Frank Romano and Nick Tana bought it back they decided to reappoint a local agency,” Mr James said.

 

“Ultimately you’ve got to move with the times and stop thinking that the world ends in Darlington and get our own back and talk to eastern States companies.”

-         Vinten Browning

 

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