According to City of Perth Council minutes from yesterday, the City of Perth will be appointing Block Branding and Nani Creative to their Creative Marketing Services duties. The appointments follow a prolonged two-stage tender process that saw submissions from 9 agencies/companies rejected by the Council in April, following the original tender.
Block Branding and Nani Creative will share general marketing campaigns for a one year period with the option to extend up to three years. Block Branding were also appointed to the Council’s Christmas and New Year and Skyworks campaigns for this year, again with the option of extending the relationship.
The City of Perth’s tender process has been a protracted one that has been criticised by several agency heads in Perth. The agency appointment of Block and Nani is expected to be formally approved and voted on at the Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday 31 August.
The City’s most recent agency appointment contract expired at the end of January this year. The contract was held jointly by The Brand Agency and 303MullenLowe since September 2019. The City of Perth advertised the Marketing Creative Services Request for Tender in November 2020 and closed on 8th December 2020.
Following evaluation of all 9 tenders received the April 6, 2021 Special Council Meeting heard the recommendation from the City of Perth marketing team was that one of the incumbents, 303 MullenLowe, be reappointed for the Marketing Creative Services contract for a period of three years.
However, due to a change in the procurement policy at the time, the City of Perth Council changed direction and rejected the recommendation of a single agency appointment in favour of a panel contract arrangement with several specialist agencies appointed. This resulted in the Council’s rejection of all submitted 9 agency tenders and 303MullenLowe’s reappointment recommendation from their marketing team.
A new tender was then called for and re-advertised to establish a panel of marketing suppliers. This time only three companies submitted – Block Branding, Nani Creative and Platform Communications.
One respondent applied for Part One and Part Two of the tender, and two respondents applied for Part Two only. Interestingly, Block Branding’s appointment to the Christmas and New Year and Skyworks campaigns (Part One), was made under a tender exemption as only one agency (Platform Communications) pitched for these tasks so the Council had to approach Block Branding and asked them to also tender for these campaigns as Platform Communications had been ruled out.
As a point of interest at its Special Meeting held 13 July 2021, minutes show the Council adopted the 21/22 Annual Budget, which resulted in a $500,000 allocation to marketing services – which is $2.5 million less than the previous financial year.
Several agencies Campaign Brief spoke to decided not to be involved in the tender process as they felt the City of Perth’s tender requirements were onerous. Incumbent agencies 303 MullenLowe and The Brand Agency both confirmed that they had decided to not be involved.
Said one agency head: “The tender asked for a significant amount of work, for no fee, and in a very short time. All of Perth’s best agencies have been extremely busy with existing clients and I’m not surprised at all that this second tender process saw a disappointing turnout of agencies.”
Another commented: “To decide to go through the whole process again shows no understanding of the work involved in these tenders. They claim the reason is that they wanted to go to a panel, but the first tender allowed for a panel appointment if that is what they wanted.”
The Ad Council was also petitioned by several agencies to get involved and WA head Gavin Bain sent a letter to the City of Perth to express concern that the shape of the tender requirements would see most Perth agencies declining to be involved.
“In my Ad Council role I wrote to them and expressed our belief that a low response rate to the tender is not in the best interest of the City of Perth and is not a great outcome for the City of Perth’s current and long-term marketing objectives,” said Bain. “A lot of work and man hours goes into tenders and the terms of the City of Perth tender requirements were onerous, which is why many agencies didn’t submit.”
Bain said he believes clients are much better served when they look for long term partners in agencies rather than short term supplier relationships.
An broad industry observation from another agency head highlighted the current boom in Perth adland: “The industry is as busy as I have ever seen it in my career. Perth clients are now divided up into two categories; those who have an aligned agency partner and those who don’t. The music has stopped and there are clients out there who can’t get a chair. As a very busy agency we’ve declined to pitch on over $3 million in work over the past three months and we are still getting request to pitch documents and approaches from companies wanting 3-5 agencies to do an unpaid creative pitch. Good luck if they can get anyone to do the work at all let alone pitch. In Darwinian fashion evolution it means that currently the well organised clients have access to good resources and less organised clients will not be as well served.”
Block Branding CEO Natalie Jenkins said they will await the official notification of the outcome of the tender on Tuesday 31st August at the Ordinary Council Meeting.
“However as proud residents of the city and creative leaders in the state, we would love the opportunity to work with City of Perth to give the City the promotion it deserves,” said Jenkins. “We look forward to hearing in due course whether we have been successful in this tender.”
“Like many other agencies, we were also concerned with the heavy burden of work requested in Part A of the tender. In fact, I wrote a letter on behalf of a group of independent agencies to the City outlining our collective concerns at the large amount of work required to complete Part A would exclude many excellent, independent agencies from tendering on that part. Part B (appointment to the marketing services panel) of the tender was not onerous, and as we had submitted to the original panel tender back in December, re-submitting was very manageable, despite the fact – like most agencies – we also are extremely busy with a number of large client projects. Block does not do unpaid creative pitches and did not in this case.”
Nani Creative Design Manager, Leigh Wood, commented: “As a new specialist agency, we are always pleased to be given opportunities to work with new clients. We did not submit any creative concept work for the City of Perth Tender, and stand alongside the WA creative community in not supporting unpaid pitch requests.”
Minutes from the City of Perth Council April 6th and August 24th meetings make interesting reading. See below (marketing services tender minutes on April 6th begin on page 21.)