Lowe New Zealand has lost the high profile Vodafone account with at least 10 people being made redundant at the agency as a result.
Vodafone has launched a pitch to find a replacement for Lowe, with Colenso, JWT and Ogilvy all making the shortlist.
Stephen Pearson, CEO for Lowe Australasia said the Vodafone loss had triggered a restructuring at the agency, with 10 staff losing their jobs.
“This is not a good day for us. Having said that, in a strange way, after years with this international alignment looming over us, it’s a relief. We now have the certainty to chart our future,” Pearson told Fastline.
Draft will continue working with Vodafone on its DM business. And the pitch is expected to be completed by the end April 2007.
“Our agency requirements have moved considerably since the last time we reviewed our relationship with Lowe some two years ago. With the change in focus this year for our brand and stronger focus on retail, we felt we needed a fresh perspective,” said Craig Herbison, Vodafone general manager of brand and communications.
“Lowe is an exceptional brand agency who has played a significant part in building the Vodafone brand to where it is today. We have had a very productive and good relationship.”
He added: “This is not purely a creative pitch – it is as much to determine whether the agencies are capable of working with and meeting the needs of a brand like Vodafone as we evolve our business moving forward.”
To me, Vodafone's advertising has been a step above Telecom's, despite the latter having Saatchis at its disposal. The below-the-line stuff should be singled out for being particularly good in terms of solid, creative work. It's not ground-breaking or anything, but not stupid and yoofy either, for which we should be grateful. I'd say the main problem has been the lack of effective advertising towards businesses: Vodafone is still seen as the brand for the text-crazed pre-pay crowd, but that particular chestnut goes deeper than just the advertising. Vodafone needs to take the business market more seriously than it does today.
Whatever agency takes over has its work cut out for it, as apart from anything, Vodafone is in a rapidly changing environment that's demanding too - you're not going to get away with empty rubbish, because that's not what your customers are looking for.
On the other hand, Vodafone's PR is a disaster area. I'm seeing some improvements this year, but there's a long way to go. I get the sense that the good people who know about the gear and services they're in charge of are being held back in favour of a dummied-down communications strategy that smothers the fresh and innovative stuff coming out of Vodafone, which is rather a shame.
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