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News Analysis 2 Dec 2020 - 3 min read

Walking the torque: BMW appoints Atomic 212 as its media agency of record

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

BMW has landed with indie agency Atomic, Toyota is close to finishing its creative and media agency review

Following a six-month pitch process, BMW has landed on its new media agency, opting for independent shop Atomic 212. The brand confirmed the decision with Mi3. The appointment marks another coup for Australia's apparently booming indie agency sector, and ticks off another major review from this year's $500m pitchpalooza. Meanwhile, the Toyota pitch is moving into its final stages.

Another indie scores top marques

BMW has named independent shop Atomic 212 as its new media agency of record, concluding another chapter of this year's $500m pitchpalooza.

Six agencies took part in the initial round in August. Three made the cut, with Mediabrands' Initiative and GroupM's Wavemaker alongside Atomic.

Agencies were given the news on Tuesday morning. Both BMW and Atomic 212 were approached for comment.

BMW Group Australia confirmed the decision to appoint Atomic 212 as its lead media buying agency after a competitive pitch process. 

Atomic 212 will begin working on the account with effect from January 1st,  2021.  

"BMW Group brands are constantly evolving, so is the communication landscape and how people consume news and information," Tony Sesto, General Manager for BMW Marketing told Mi3.

"It was therefore important to select an agency partner with strong creative media buying credentials to ensure our brands have a more impactful presence in the busy marketplace. The account will include media buying for print,  OOH, broadcast and digital.”

Dentsu did not repitch for the business, with the closing of incumbent brand Vizeum earlier this year understood to have influenced that decision.

The move ended a long time partnership between the brand and agency, with the account previously being serviced by Mitchell Communications Group until it was acquired by Aegis (now Dentsu) in 2010.

The win by Atomic continues a growing trend of indies taking major accounts from global holding companies.

“BMW Group brands are at the forefront of luxury and global innovation. We are delighted to partner with such an incredible business, Barry O’Brien OAM, Atomic 212° Chairman and Partner told Mi3.

“The media landscape is constantly evolving at great speed and Atomic 212° was proud to demonstrate a creative media buying approach through our smarter, faster and accountable media model,” he added.

“With an emphasis on data, technology and modelling combined with creative media ideas our integrated media model is a powerful approach that consistently delivers results for our clients, and we look forward to leveraging this approach for BMW Group Australia.

A slew of new independent agency launches and established independent shops appear to have made headway in the Australian market this year.

Their founders and leaders this week told Mi3 they expect 2021 to herald a significant shift, with big brands increasingly seeking greater agility and value in a post-Covid environment.


Stop-start growth

According to VFacts, the luxury-car sector continued to show mixed sales results for October 2020.

Despite cracking the top 10 for the sector earlier this year, after registering a large number of demonstrator models and company cars to boost its numbers, it has since dropped back.

BMW finished October in 13th spot – despite a 3.2% sales increase – ahead of MG, Audi, Suzuki and LDV.

After crashing to a 30-year low in April, tumbling 48.5%, the overall car market is has made some recovery, back 18.8% year to date as of end of October.


A year in review

BMW was one of many high profile agency reviews underway this year, alongside Toyota, Craveable Brands (reappointed incumbent Mindshare), HBF (still pitching) and Westpac (consolidated into Publicis).

Toyota remains in play, with sources telling Mi3 the account is down to the final stages and given the easing of travel restrictions around Melbourne, will hold its final presentations in person.

Other brands that have hired new agencies and extended their existing deals this year include Bonds, 7-Eleven, Caltex, Pandora, Catch, Lion, TipTop, Bendigo Bank and the University of Tasmania.

Between 20 and 30 account reviews have taken place in Australia this year with one or two still underway. Their combined media spend value stands at around $500 million.

However, New York-based marketing advisory firm R3 Worldwide says the volume of pitches has actually declined 7.6% in Australia year-on-year - but these figures do not take into account pitches below $15m in media spend.

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Josh McDonnell

Senior Writer

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