One of the most coveted alcohol advertising accounts in the country has gone to the underdog involved in a three-way pitch.
Sources revealed to the Herald that the Lion marketing team recently picked its suitor from media agencies PHD, MediaCom and a joint effort between three agencies in the Publicis Groupe (MBM, Starcom and Zenith).
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It is now understood that Lion's marketing team has decided to assign the account to MediaCom.
The pitch did not involve the creative side of the business, which remains on the DDB ledger. An example of recent creative work to come from the Lion stable includes a Speight's ad called The Dance, which featured a bloke teaching his mate to dance in the lead up to his wedding.
In advertising, creative agencies develop campaigns while media agencies develop the strategy to ensure those campaigns are seen by as many people as possible.
Lion marketing boss Rachel Ellerm declined to comment for this story on account of a policy not to discuss agency partnerships.
The Herald is yet to receive a request for comment from MediaCom.
Industry sources who spoke to the Herald during the pitch strongly suggested that MediaCom was the dark horse among the agencies involved.
Given PHD's size and the fact that Ellerm had previously worked closely with MBM while at Goodman Fielder, sources said earlier that it would be a surprise to see MediaCom walk away with the prize.
MediaCom's gain is, however, Pubilicis Groupe-owned Zenith's loss, with the longtime incumbent losing its grip on the account.
Data from researcher Nielsen shows that Lion, which owns the Speight's and Steinlager brands among others, spent just shy of $20 million on advertising between August 2018 and July 2019, making it arguably the most coveted alcohol account in the country and a significant loss for any agency.
Stuart Rutherford, managing director of Zenith New Zealand, said he is really proud of what the agency achieved while working on the Lion account.
"It's been a great run with Lion and we thank them for their partnership over the last 12 years," he said.
Rutherford confirmed there would be changes at the agency, but would not provide details on the number of job cuts the loss of Lion would entail.
"Off the back Zenith's recent new business wins of Kellogg's and Disney, organic growth on existing clients and other new business across [Publicis] Groupe, team changes will be minimal," he said.