Networks pitching for MTN
by Herman Manson (@marklives) One of Africa’s biggest telco brands, MTN, is out to pitch, with major global agency networks invited by MTN to participate in the pitch process, rather than individual agencies.
According to Zayd Abrahams, general manager: global brand, MTN Group, “MTN Group, on behalf of its 22 operating companies and the Group Management Services business, commissioned a tender for an integrated agency on 9 March 2016. As part of the process, MTN Group convened a tender briefing session with global holding agencies, all pre-selected based on their credentials. The session was followed up with a formal Request For Proposals (RFP) to the same group of global holding agencies.”
Targeted at global holding agencies
The tender is targeted at global holding agencies, which are responsible for assembling teams for the tender from within their stable of agencies, says Abrahams. To this end, MTN invited Dentsu Aegis Network, Havas, Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP to participate in the pitch. (WPP-owned MetropolitanRepublic currently holds the MTN account, while WPP-owned Ogilvy & Mather holds the advertising account for SA’s largest mobile telco, Vodacom. Third-placed cellular player Cell C is currently serviced by FCB Africa (IPG).)
Not all the invited networks have decided to pitch.
Based upon discussions with several agency executives who prefer not to be named, IPG seems to have either declined or to have already withdrawn. Havas CEO, Lynn Madeley, has confirmed that the network also decided to withdraw from the pitch for “a number of reasons”. Apart from IPG and Havas, a third network, too, is believed to have withdrawn, although a spokesperson has yet to confirm this with MarkLives.
The pitch is being handled by internally and led by Group Procurement, with the briefing conducted by the Global Brand team. “We are currently commissioning external agency management services to assist with the process,” says Abrahams.
MTN decided to put its business out to pitch, according to Abrahams, because “[t]he brand is currently managed by several agencies across our operations. This leads to lack of consistency, scale, and limited opportunities for global brand management. MTN requires integration and leadership to ensure both consistency and local relevance, as we move the brand into its next growth curve.”
Because the account is being pitched for at network level, inter-agency fighting for a slice of the business has broken out within at least one network, according to a source close to the pitch process, who commented upon condition of anonymity.
A network-level pitch suggests value and footprint as decisive factors on client side, rather than team chemistry, as one agency executive commented: while Maurice Lévy or Sir Martin Sorrell are both sure to impress, they will hardly be handling the account after the process concludes, which is expected to happen during course of June 2016.
Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com. He was the inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011 and has, over his 20-year-plus career, contributed to numerous journals and websites in South Africa and abroad, including AdVantage magazine, Men’s Health, Computer World and African Communications.
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