Scotiabank’s Tangerine brand gets a PHD in media

Tangerine CMO Andrew Zimakas on why PHD won the account

AndrewZimakas_03A solid understanding of the science of modern media and strong presence in Quebec were key factors in Tangerine‘s decision to hire PHD as its new media agency, says chief marketing officer Andrew Zimakas.

The decision follows what Zimakas characterized as a customary review of the Scotiabank unit’s agency partners, which typically occurs every four or five years. The account had been with Initiative Media for five years.

The process started earlier this year with an internal examination of Tangerine’s needs and other factors such as its market position, with the review beginning in earnest about six months ago.

Zimakas declined to provide specifics on which agencies pitched the assignment or how many shops were shortlisted.

“We cast the net fairly wide because there are so many great planning and buying organizations in the Canadian marketplace, particularly in Toronto, so we had the luxury of looking at several,” he said. “It was a reasonably comprehensive process.”

Zimakas said PHD’s involvement with Tangerine’s parent company Scotiabank (it has held the media assignment since 2009) did not play a significant role in the company’s decision to move its business to the Omnicom Media Group (OMG) shop.

“There was no expectation or pressure that we would work with any of the same agencies,” he said. “If anything, I would need to speak to what potential risks there would be in having the same agency.”

PHD was selected based on several factors he said, most notably its grasp of the science behind modern media buys, particularly in areas such as programmatic and search.

“We really wanted to ensure that we partnered with an agency we felt had great digital depth, had a good balance between strategy, toolsets and great chemistry around day-to-day account management,” he said. “PHD checked the box in each of those areas, so we were pretty confident in our selection at the end of the day.”

Zimakas also praised PHD’s knowledge of the Quebec market, which he said has been a “phenomenal” growth market for Tangerine and will remain a key area of focus.

He said Quebec is currently over-indexing in several key metrics, such as customer base, customer base growth and depth of the relationship with those customers. “There’s an expectation that will continue and accelerate, so it was really important from a media standpoint,” he said.

Zimakas said Tangerine – which changed its name from ING Direct in April – is starting “to hit up against” the brand awareness scores achieved by its predecessor, with consideration growing both at the brand level and on a product-specific basis.

He attributed the growth to a combination of factors including paid media “doing its job,” the creative (from Toronto’s John St.) cutting through, and earned media attention generated by the brand overhaul exceeding expectations.

OMG president and CEO Fred Forster told Marketing that the review was “quite refreshing,” particularly when clients’ procurement departments play such a large part in today’s reviews.

“It was very conversational and philosophical to some degree,” he said. “We go through these rigorous pricing things and it’s procurement driven, and ultimately it doesn’t help move the business forward,” he said.

“The reality is we were having a very different conversation with Tangerine: We were talking about a performance-based type of relationship, not a ‘How cheap can we get it for’ relationship. That to me was refreshing.”

PHD was listed as Canada’s fifth largest agency network in the most recent “Overall Activity Rankings” report from Paris-based media agency research firm RECMA. The network had 2013 activity (a metric that includes buying billings and specialized services such as search and branded content) of $676 million, a 19% increase from 2012.

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