Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

University brushes off concern over conflict of interest

Massey University agreed there was a potential conflict of interest when awarding the ad account to FCB, where the husband of a Vice Chancellor works. Photo / File
Massey University agreed there was a potential conflict of interest when awarding the ad account to FCB, where the husband of a Vice Chancellor works. Photo / File

Massey University is brushing off industry concerns that it didn't follow proper procedure, after it awarded its latest campaign to ad agency FCB, allegedly without declaring a potential conflict of interest to other agencies.

The issue was raised after it emerged that FCB group account director Toby Sellers was married to Penelope Barr-Sellers, who serves as the university's assistant vice chancellor of external relations and who, it is understood, was on the panel of six which decided to award the account to FCB.

Massey University spokesperson James Gardiner agreed there was a potential conflict of interest but said the process had been followed correctly.

"As far as I know, it was disclosed from the outset," Gardiner said. "I can only go on what I've been told which is that Penelope disclosed it immediately as did her husband."

According to Y&R NZ chief executive Steve Kane, the information had not been disclosed to other parties.

"It was not disclosed, no," Kane said. "[Massey] have maintained that the pitch process was conducted in keeping with whatever their particular standards are and that the individuals concerned weren't involved in the pitch process, but this has come to light after the fact."

It is understood Y&R NZ and Saatchi & Saatchi were shortlisted for the account along with FCB.

- NZ Herald

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