01/08/2013 - 11:05

Nationals up the ante

01/08/2013 - 11:05


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Nationals up the ante
IN THE GAME: 303Lowe managing director Alan Taylor says east coast agencies are playing a much larger role in the competitive advertising market. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Two of the oldest names in Perth's advertising industry have disappeared as increasing competition from national firms puts pressure on local players.

Both Linc, founded in 1968, and Bowtell Clarke and Yole (BCY) are absent from Business News' list of advertising and branding agencies – the former due to financial concerns and the latter following a merger.

The state's oldest advertising agency, Linc went into voluntary administration in April; and from today (August 1) the BCY name will cease to exist following its merger with Gatecrasher Advertising.

The two examples are indicative of a shakeup of the industry partly prompted by east coast firms elbowing their way into the market.

JWT is a new entrant on the list after snaring one of the state's biggest advertising accounts – RAC – from The Brand Agency and leveraging off the contract to set up shop in Perth.

JWT is a global marketing communications agency with offices in Melbourne and Sydney and is being led in Perth by former Gatecrasher senior account executive, Doni Savvides.

Losing the RAC account was a blow for the local market and The Brand Agency, which had won numerous awards for its recent work with the business.

The gap between The Brand Agency and its closest rival, Marketforce, has closed with both now ranked as the equal largest firms, employing 85 staff.

Interestingly, the firms have distinctly different business models for growth. The Brand Agency has been investing heavily in digital capabilities (including its 2012 acquisition of digital-focused agency Market United) and targets for just under half of its revenue to come from digital work.

However Marketforce chief executive John Driscoll has a different outlook and told Business News his firm's brief foray into the digital realm had a detrimental effect on the business.

"At one point we thought we had to be producing everything in-house," Mr Driscoll said.

"If you think about it that's a bit of a contradiction, because in the past we always outsourced photography."

Instead, Marketforce concentrates on being a repository of ideas and leaves specialist agencies to put it all together.

Marketforce also had a win this year in being awarded part of the iiNet account, with the ISP on the lookout for a new advertising agency when its relationship with Meerkats ended.

It opted to award the retention account to Marketforce and handed the responsibility of acquiring new customers to east coast firm BWM Group – an arrangement that soon ran into difficulty, prompting iiNet to bring the account back west and reappoint Meerkats.

The two firms now work in collaboration, but that example of account fragmentation wasn't something 303Lowe managing director Alan Taylor said was likely to continue.

He said clients started to break up accounts when large agencies lacked specific capabilities, but now a reverse trend was emerging.

"Having multiple suppliers is very challenging, but having a good integrated agency with a decent offering is much more capable of translating a brand across all channels," Mr Taylor told Business News.

303Lowe is the result of a 2011 merger between Perth-founded 303 and Lowe Australia, which Mr Taylor said had reaped significant rewards as it protected it from relying on a small Perth market.

"There's only so much business in Perth, and if you think your competition is limited to Western Australia then you're kidding yourself," he said.



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