By Nick Tabakoff.
Some of Australia’s top food brands, including Vegemite and Bega Peanut Butter, have sent shockwaves through the advertising world by moving all of their creative and media-buying work to a single agency.
The move, which was announced just recently, means Bega will move all its brands from traditional media buyer Carat to creative agency Thinkerbell.
Industry experts believe the shock move could prove the catalyst for more Australian brands to place all their media buying and creative under the one roof as they look to simplify their marketing strategies.
Meanwhile, multinational ad groups such as WPP are likely to be forced to make more integrated media buying and creative offerings to their major clients.
Bega’s switch will take in all its major brands, including Vegemite, Bega Peanut Butter, Picky Picky Peanuts, the Farmer’s Table deli foods brand and Zoosh mayonnaise.
Bega marketing director Ben Hill told Media: “It makes sense to have one partner: all our creative and media thinking under the one roof. We believe creative, strategy and media planning should work cohesively and be seamlessly integrated.” Thinkerbell managing partner Margie Reid said the Bega move was part of a wider push to integrate buying and creative.
“The Bega win is very significant for our agency, and we believe this is part of a wider trend of clients looking for simpler, more efficient agency relationships,” said Ms Reid, who was previously Melbourne managing director of top buying agency OMD.
But leading media strategist Steve Allen of Fusion Strategy went further. “This will really shake things up,” he said. “The phones and email boxes of media agencies and creatives will be getting a workout today.
“Internationally, you’ve got the big holding companies like WPP that have started to establish specialist integrated teams on big accounts to meet this challenge. This news will be the catalyst for them to have some more open conversations with their clients. The WPPs of the world will now ask them: do you want to have an integrated approach?”
Mr Allen said there was a perception among some brands that they have a fragmented marketing strategy because of the separation of the creative and media buying functions.“Bega’s decision to move its business to a very smart, 18-month-old upstart will prompt a lot of brands to think about the structures they are dealing with, and what they are getting for their money,” he said. “A lot of companies are having to get several opinions that are not unified on everything from their creative to their digital, brand and product strategies, and they are paying different service providers for all of those.
“The complexity of the marketplace is causing major issues within marketers, and there is a growing pressure from brands to simplify this process.” Mr Allen said that in the present ad environment, he had talked to “many good clients who get irritated by how many people are in the room in deciding advertising and marketing strategy, and say: ‘I’m paying for these people.’ ”
He also said there had been a problem with getting big international holding companies to ask clients if they were looking for something different. “One of the problems the big agencies are having is that unless there’s been a warning shot across their bows, no one’s going to speak up and offer something different.”
He points out that “80 cents in the dollar” of advertising on TV was channelled through international media agencies, with most of the advertising being “globally aligned”.
Mr Allen said a previous era in which media and creative agencies were under the one roof ended decades ago, when major players such as Harold Mitchell broke away from a full service advertising firm model, starting a trend of concentrating purely on media buying.
The media planning and buying of some of the brands, including Vegemite, shifted to Thinkerbell after being with Carat for 10 years under the ownership of Bega and, previously, under multinational food giant Mondelez.
Thinkerbell is owned by a group of the country’s top media buying and ad creative identities, led by Reid, Adam Ferrier, Jim Ingram and Ben Couzens.