Add more content here...
March, 2024

Tourism Australia tempers agency speculation, says creative and digital pitch still on track for mid-year decision; shortlisted groups leverage global assets as procurement hits the road

What you need to know: 

  • Tourism Australia has knocked back industry speculation that it has appointed its new creative and digital agencies.
  • The hotly anticipated pitch is down to three, with Clemenger Group, Publicis Groupe and Accenture each offering up their global assets.
  • The second phase of the procurement process still has a ways to go, with Sydney presentations still underway as the international phase of pitching begins.
  • Stage 2 was initially poised to wrap in April, ahead of the contract’s July commencement date, but it could be as late as June before an official outcome is decided.
  • International capabilities are thought to be at the forefront of Tourism Australia’s decision-making process, with the organisation’s multi-agency panel model looking likely to be filled out by a single holding company.

Tourism Australia has knocked back conjecture that its hotly anticipated creative and digital pitch had landed, affirming that second phase of the procurement process still has some way to go.

According to a Tourism Australia spokesperson, there has been no change to the original mid-year timing outlined when the statutory review was announced in September. The tourism body said it would be making no further comment until the review process was complete.

The five-year contract is due to take effect from July 2024, with the second round of pitching originally poised to wrap up in April – per Tourism Australia’s approach to market. However, with Sydney presentations still under way and the international component of the procurement process only just commencing, Mi3 understands a formal outcome could come as late as June.

Clemenger, Publicis and Accenture drawing on global assets

Clemenger Group, Publicis Groupe and Accenture are all still in the game post the conclusion of the first round in November and have each offered up multiple assets to take on Tourism Australia’s proposed move to a panel model. They’ll now be judged on their responses to a comprehensive and strategic brief for the next iteration of Tourism Australia’s Come and Say G’Day campaign – the successful agencies will be required to build on the platform developed by predecessor M&C Saatchi.

Fronted by a CGI Kangaroo and the resurrected 1984 ‘Say ‘G’Day’ tagline, the campaign’s 2022 rollout underpinned a $125 million marketing blitz that boosted consideration 18 per cent per CMO Susan Coghill. M&C Saatchi is understood to have contested the account, partnering with Howatson+Company for the first stage of the pitch, but are no longer in the running.

According to industry whispers the shortlist might reflect an emphasis on building out greater fire power outside the Australian market, with each of the remaining contenders able to draw on their global assets to deliver work across Tourism Australia’s key markets.

Accenture Song’s global play has only recently been exemplified in its new set up for IAG’s NRMA Insurance, which consolidates the creative and CRM remits previously held by Bear Meets Eagle on Fire and CHEP Network, respectively. Charged with delivering end-to-end services that will “transform” the insurer’s customer experience, the consulting firm, per CEO David Droga, plans to “bring the full global power of the Accenture Song proposition”.

“We want the relationship to be a lighthouse for the type of work that Song does around the world,” he said.

Whether the NRMA announcement is a signal of what Song is hoping to serve up for Tourism Australia is unclear, but it’s likely that the on the ground power of The Monkey’s, paired with Droga5’s international presence across New York, London, Tokyo, Dublin and São Paulo could tick a few boxes. It also wouldn’t be the first-time round for Droga5, which partnered with Ogilvy to make it to the shortlist of Tourism Australia’s 2018 pitch. The agency, then not yet a part of Accenture, was criticised for its lack of presence in the local market.

Elsewhere in the shortlist, Clemenger Group’s officer includes both Clemenger BBDO and CHEP, which are pitching alongside independent Indigenous-owned creative consultancy Campfire X. Clemenger BBDO is looking for its second hit at the account, after landing the creative remit in 2013.

Publicis Groupe, which frequently peddles its ‘power of one’ agency village solution, is expected to draw on multiple of its global assets. The French holding group already has one foot in the door with its Digitas brand the incumbent on the digital account, while Saatchi & Saatchi’s newly appointed joint-chief creative officers Mandie van der Merwe and Avish Gordham worked on the creative account during their time at M&C Saatchi.

A diverse agency panel may come second to global capabilities

While the tourism body is open to considering different delivery models it expects it has been firm on its plan to move ahead with a panel of multiple agencies “including more than one creative agency” and “specialist digital expertise”.

“What we have seen in recent years, more so than at any other time, is just how quickly our external environment can impact the marketing we do and where we need to respond swiftly on multiple fronts at any one time with creative work,” said Tourism Australia’s Coghill of the decision.

Mi3 understands that Tourism Australia had been hoping to find itself a solution that went outside the confines of a single holding company, having laid out its intention to land an “increased diversity of creative responses” to its briefs. Given the shortlist, it appears that the organisation is likely to compromise in return for stronger global ties.