The category knowledge Zenith gained during its failed Coles media pitch and the Publicis Media organisational restructure laid the foundations for the agency to win the “transformative” $42 million Aldi media account, Publicis Media boss Matt James has said.
The agency takes over the account from long-term media partner Maxus early next year after winning a closely-guarded review that went down to Zenith and the incumbent.
James tells AdNews winning the Aldi business is “unquestionably transformative” for an agency starting to reap the benefits of Publicis Media's global restructure earlier this year.
“It's the type of business you prepare for over many years – Zenith's ROI proposition has been developing to work and partner with a business like Aldi at this scale,” James says.
“Strategically and culturally, it's enormous. A lot of people have worked on the pitch and the business and this gives them a huge belief in who we are, what we do and why we do it.”
A top-two client
When Aldi joins Zenith in 2017, it will become the agency's second-largest client in terms of annual ad spend after pharmaceutical giant Reckitt Benckiser.
James expects a smooth transition and says Zenith has most of the talent inhouse to serve the account, particularly in Sydney.
“There's a little bit of recruitment around that team but fundamentally it will come into the organisation quite smoothly because of the depth of people we've got in the agency,” he adds.
Although James didn't want to comment specifically on the reasons why Zenith secured the business, out of respect for incumbent Maxus, he says there is no doubt the agency's work on Coles provided the groundwork for the Aldi review.
Earlier this year, Zenith was involved in a three-way tussle for the Coles media account with UM and OMD – which was eventually taken out by OMD.
“What [the Coles review] enabled us to do was get under the skin of a particular market in some depth. When you then walk into another tender process like Aldi, you have a lot of individuals that are already very predisposed to the retail market, its dynamics, the challenges and opportunities,” James says.
“If you've not worked in a category like that before, when you come to work on a pitch you potentially start relatively cold in understanding the market dynamics. With OMD on Coles, they had their warn up with Woollies. Without doubt having that predisposition to market intelligence is a benefit.”
The Aldi win has added significance for Publicis Media and James as it is the first major client win for Publicis Media since it restructured from six media agencies down to four this year.
The move saw James promoted from Zenith boss to Publicis Media Australia CEO while ZenithOptimedia was re-structured to a standalone media agency Zenith, and a combined Spark Optimedia agency. James believes the market is now starting to see the benefits of this move, which was designed to align better performing parts of the Publicis Media stable and drive operational efficiencies.
“Zenith itself has gone through quite a big re-imagining process in terms of consolidating its ROI positioning. There's been a lot of strategic leadership changes and we're starting to see an impact,” he says.
“The other aspect is the degree that we can leverage Publicis Media practices as a group now as a result of the restructure. We can start to apply these benefits to a business like Aldi.”
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