Countdown announces new agency partners

2 October 2017: Countdown has announced a change to its agency partners, appointing Y&R NZ as its lead brand creative agency and separating out day-to-day advertising production with a bespoke studio in partnership with Wellcom Group.

Bridget Lamont, Countdown General Manager Marketing says Countdown is looking forward to the creative firepower and strategic input of the Y&R NZ team to help build a strong Countdown brand over the next few years.

“As marketers it’s our role to actively own our customer relationship and be more responsible for our brand and how it is communicated.  The way customers are engaging with businesses like ours these days is very different to even just a few years ago, and we feel that the time is right to make a change and go into 2018 with some fresh thinking,” says Bridget.

“We’ve considered a number of options and have decided on a completely new way of working, with new support in place for creative and production which we think is an exciting move for Countdown,” she says.

Over the last year or so Countdown has been focused on understanding what’s important for its customers, resulting in a relaunch of Onecard in partnership with AA Smartfuel, ongoing investment in lower grocery prices through the Price Lockdown programme, the introduction of Free Fruit for Kids, increased focus on community initiatives such as Countdown Food Rescue, and the development of the Eat Well for Less brand position.

Countdown’s new model will see creative ‘idea generation’ delivered by Y&R NZ, and separated out from day-to-day advertising production, media buying and digital communications.  For the bulk of Countdown’s retail production activity, Countdown has partnered with Wellcom Group, a globally-experienced, dedicated creative production company.

“We want to work with a small group of agency partners with core competencies and expertise in clearly identified areas rather than operating with the ‘one-stop-shop’ approach,” says Bridget.  “We think “de-coupling” our BAU retail advertising production work from the creative agency workload will give us the efficiencies we need in our unique, quick-fire environment, but it also means we’ll build a team of experts who are passionate about this type of retail work.”

Josh Moore, Y&R NZ CEO and Chief Creative Officer says, “As an agency, we have a reputation for work that demands attention and delivers sales. We’re very pleased that this reputation has encouraged Countdown to appoint us as their new brand agency partner.

“Countdown is a major employer and makes significant contributions to communities across the country.  They have a fantastic strategic direction and the ambition to be one of New Zealand’s most trusted and celebrated brands. We are very much looking forward to working with Bridget and the Countdown team and helping propel them into this space with our distinct approach.”

Wellcom Australia / New Zealand CEO, Andrew Sidwell says that the partnership with Countdown will be a best in class model for future content production hubs worldwide.  “This heralds the start of an exciting new era – with state of the art technology and world class production facilities servicing Countdown’s retail advertising requirements across all communication platforms, including print, digital, tv, radio and video production.

“We are very impressed with the calibre and passion of the Countdown team and we feel our ‘can do’ culture is perfectly aligned. Our retail technology platform, Knowledgewell will underpin the workflow, streamline processes and deliver improved efficiencies”.

Wellcom provides production services to clients such as Australia Post, Commonwealth Bank, Canon, Tesco, BWS and JC Penney.

Mr Sidwell says “This complements and strengthens our long standing production partnership with Woolworths Supermarkets in Australia, and we are very excited to have this opportunity to build a strong and productive partnership with Countdown.”

While Countdown’s creative agency partnership with Ogilvy will come to an end at the end of the year, Ogilvy Media will continue as Countdown’s sole media agency.  

“Countdown and Ogilvy have worked together for around 20 years and we’ve done a lot of exciting and amazing work together.  Ogilvy has been an important part of our business and played a significant role in the development of our brand; we sincerely thank the team for their dedication to our brand over the last 20 years. Our relationship with Ogilvy Media has gone from strength to strength in recent times and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with Greg, Rachel, Kim and the rest of the Ogilvy Media team” says Bridget.

Rachel Cormack, Head of Media for Ogilvy says “It’s a pleasure to work with a partner such as Countdown who has such high ambitions.  We couldn’t be more excited about continuing what has been a long and fruitful relationship.”

Countdown will also continue its successful partnership with Affinity iD for digital and personalised communications activity.  Countdown was recently awarded the coveted Direct Marketing Organisation of the Year award from the Marketing Association, for its myCountdown email platform.


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