Tourism Australia Sends $50 Million Global Account to M&C Saatchi

New York's SS+K led the pitch in the U.S.

Droga5 formerly handled the Tourism Australia account in the U.S. Tourism Australia

Tourism Australia has named M&C Saatchi as its global agency of record.

The contract runs for three years, with an option to extend the assignment for two periods of 12 months.

M&C Saatchi New York’s SS+K led the pitch for the U.S. account, aided by Technology, Humans And Taste (THAT), a New York-based boutique agency M&C Saatchi invested in this fall.

M&C Saatchi co-chair and SS+K co-founder Lenny Stern said that the assignment represented working on behalf of “one of the world’s most amazing countries and one of the industry’s most creatively ambitious and successful clients. It’s an agency’s dream.”

“I think they were looking for a network that could deliver globally in an integrated way, which we were able to do with offices in Sydney, and China, and the U.K. and the U.S., but I also think they were looking for a contemporary, fast-moving” experimental and innovative network, he added.

Sources close to the business say M&C Saatchi pitched against Droga5, BBDO and DDB. M&C Saatchi Sydney led the pitch globally, and sources say M&C’s presence in Australia played a crucial role in the win.

“I think Tourism Australia has set a pretty high benchmark in recent years with its marketing work and the brief we put together for this tender was very much about building upon that. The caliber of responses we received was exceptional,” Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said in a statement. “In the end, M&C Saatchi proved to be the stand-out agency in terms of their strategic and brand thinking as well as the culture and operating model we wanted for our business.”

“It’s both exciting and humbling when you face off against the best in the business,” Stern told Adweek. “They could have picked multiple agencies in multiple markets but they ultimately chose to pick an integrated approach and to pick us here in the U.S. and that is something that we want to live up to and deliver on in a big way.”

Droga5 formerly handled the account in the U.S. and crafted the Dundee fake movie trailer starring Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth that was one of the more memorable efforts of the 2018 Super Bowl.

“The ideas M&C Saatchi shared were extremely creative, and they demonstrated the kind of big thinking we need to effectively differentiate Australia from the competition,” Tourism Australia CMO Lisa Ronson said in a statement.

Ronson thanked all the agencies that participated in the review, singling out current agency partners Clemenger BBDO and Droga5 New York for “special tribute.”

“Over the past five years, we’ve had great support from our agency partners who have helped deliver some exceptional creative work,” she added, citing Clemenger BBDO’s “Restaurant Australia” and “Aussie News Today” campaigns and Droga5’s Dundee Super Bowl campaign.

It’s unclear when the first work from M&C Saatchi is anticipated, but Stern told Adweek the agency is “hitting the ground running pretty quickly in January and beyond.”

Tourism Australia spends around $50 million on measured media globally and around $10 million in the U.S. according to global consultancy R3. According to Kantar Media, Tourism Australia spent a little over $10.7 million in the first six months of 2018.

Earlier this year, SS+K hired Feh Tarty as its new CCO, as M&C Saatchi looked to the agency to play a lead role in expanding its operations in North America. Tarty succeeded Bobby Hershfield, who joined The Community as vice president, executive creative director at the beginning of the year after leaving SS+K in late 2017, in the role. SS+K president and partner Brad Kay also left the agency earlier this year. M&C Saatchi acquired a stake in SS+K back in late 2014.

Patrick Coffee contributed reporting to this story.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.