Vodafone to call media review, Bohemia put on hold

By Arvind Hickman & Pippa Chambers | 11 July 2016
Telco Vodafone is to review its media buying and planning partner.

Vodafone is set to begin a review of its media planning and buying business, placing independent media agency Bohemia on notice, AdNews can reveal.

Vodafone, which AdNews understands is nearing the end of its contract with Bohemia, joins beer and wine giant Lion as the second major Bohemia client to go to market in a month. It's thought the decision on whether to renew the contract, which expires this year, will officially be confirmed later this week.

The news comes as Bohemia, the phone giant and Nova today roll out a new campaign which sees Nova putting the Vodafone network to the test as the station uses Vodafone's 4G network to broadcast its national Kate, Tim & Marty drive show.

Vodafone is the third-largest telco in Australia behind Telstra and Optus. In the past year, it spent $19.9 million on media, says Nielsen, although this figure does not include digital and is thought to be much higher.

Bohemia, which is part-owned by WPP, declined AdNews' requests for comment, and Vodafone said: “We continue to work with Bohemia and their parent company WPP.”

To lose Lion and Vodafone in quick succession would be a major blow for the independent agency and is likely to lead to some redundancies. AdNews understands a third Bohemia client may also considering its options, but has yet to greenlight a formal review. 

Established in 2011, Bohemia started turning heads when between May 2013 and June 2014 it picked up Quick Service Restaurant Holdings (Red Rooster, Oporto and Chicken Treat), Lion and Vodafone ahead of much larger agencies.

Combined, these accounts added nearly $100 million in business, but also required a significant upscale in the agency's headcount.

The Lion account alone required an extra 17 full-time equivalent staff and in 2014 the agency tripled in size to 60 people.

After winning the 2015 AdNews Media Agency of the Year, co-founder and CEO Brett Dawson told AdNews editor Rosie Baker the agency had pitched for too many clients in its third year and had gone into “a consolidation year” to steady the ship as it expanded rapidly.

“We declined more pitch opportunities than we accepted in 2015 and we won eight clients, including Caltex, Youi, Unibet, Pandora and News.com.au,” Dawson said at the time.

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