Special Group loses account as portfolio of top brands goes to pitch

Special Group has lost the Volvo account as Motorcorp Distributors has put its group of brands up for pitch.

On the table are five accounts: Land Rover, Range Rover, Jaguar, Volvo and Renault.

Special had Volvo while Land Rover, Range Rover and Jaguar have been handled by River.

Motorcorp is after consolidation, looking for a strong agency to handle all its brands under one roof.

Four agencies are past the preliminary stages of the pitch: Shine, Droga5, Publicis Mojo and River/GI Media.

The pitch includes full creative and media buying.

Chairman Russ Reynolds said the pitch process has been highly selective so far.

“We talked to people inside the industry and got a feel for agencies that were doing good work,” he said.

“Then we approached a handful. We were looking for agencies with an integrated offering, because we want to tighten up the way we do things.”

It’s understood Richard Giltrap, Mr Reynolds, and PR representative Paul Gunn (who is ex-TBWA) will make the final decision.

Mr Reynolds confirmed it was the end of the road for Special and Volvo.

“They’re undertaking and finishing some campaigns at the moment but they haven’t been asked to move forward to the next stage.”

Mr Reynolds said the brands on the table have massive potential.

“We’re looking for an agency that can help us unlock that potential.

“Land Rover and Range Rover are doing very well and we’ve got the Rugby World Cup coming up, so there’s an exciting opportunity there to continue that success.”

Meanwhile, Motorcorp wants to see Renault and Volvo operating at a level and scale of its other brands.

Mr Reynolds declined to put a figure on the portfolio’s marketing spend.

“It’s not massive as they’re niche brands, but it would make it viable for the agencies of the size we’re talking to.”

GI Media is the incumbent for media buying, which is also on the table.

Motorcorp is open to splitting up the media and creative, perhaps by keeping the media buying with GI, but first and foremost it wants an integrated offering.

“We want the agency to present on that. Media and brand strategy are important.”

TBWA, which has Renault globally and Nissan in the New Zealand market, was on the pitch list and would have gotten through to the next stage but had to pull out.

“They did really well and we were impressed,” Mr Reynolds said.

“They definitely would’ve made the shortlist, but they consulted with Nissan and couldn’t keep going. The other brands provided some barriers.”

The blockade is unfortunate for TBWA, which recently did a U-turn on the NZ Post tender and late last year declined to chase the Freeview account, which has gone to Shine.

Y&R could’ve been a likely suspect as it has Range Rover globally – but it’s understood the agency has never made a run at the business locally.

Other agencies with key car accounts include Big Communications (Skoda), DDB (Volkswagen), Saatchi & Saatchi (Toyota), DraftFCB (BMW/Mini), Blackwood Communications Group (Audi), Republik (Peugeot), Sugar (Honda), and Barnes, Catmur & Friends (Subaru).

The future of Hyundai – which was reportedly resigned by Assignment Group in early February – is as yet still uncertain.

Rumour has it Special Group has recently picked up a couple of new accounts, which as yet can't be talked about.

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