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News 11 Apr 2022 - 2 min read

Conscious decoupling: Woolworths confirms WPP's Hogarth in, News Corp’s Suddenly production unit out in bid to keep pace with content surge

By Brendan Coyne - Editor
Woolworths' Keshnee Kemp & Hogarth's Justin Ricketts

Fodder for thought: Content machine requires new model. Woolies branded content chief Keshnee Kemp has opted for WPP's Hogarth, led by Justin Ricketts.

Woolworths has confirmed WPP's Hogarth has won its lucrative content production contract across the group. The shift, flagged as the conflict that led WPP to be turfed from rival Coles' sweeping review of its marketing, media, production, digital and CX activities, comes at the expense of News Corp-owned incumbent Suddenly, which had previously handled a growing remit which started with Fresh Ideas magazine. The retailer sees opportunity to decouple creative and production and Hogarth and WPP may be eyeing a bigger Woolies play in Australia and New Zealand.

What you need to know:

  • Woolworths confirms Hogarth to take on content production across group.
  • Deal was flagged last week as reason WPP out of rival Coles full service pitch.
  • Woolworths sees opportunity to decouple creative and production.
  • Hogarth thinks retailer demand for content will ultimately "grow beyond supermarkets and food".

The broader business will have evolving requirements.

Justin Ricketts, CEO, Hogarth Worldwide

Fresh fodder

Woolworths has confirmed WPP’s Hogarth is taking over production work across the group.

The deal was flagged last week as the reason WPP was ruled out of the running for Coles’ full service pitch, and sees the business shift from News Corp’s Suddenly unit, headed by Mike Connaghan, former CEO of WPP AUNZ.

News Corp is thought to have had circa 18-20 people on the account, originally set up to produce Woolworths’ Fresh Ideas magazine. But the channels around Fresh and Woolworths' broader food media business have since multiplied.

Hogarth CEO Justin Ricketts told Mi3 he expects a continuing content expansion in line with the increase in channels retailers now use to engage customers. Across the board, he predicts Australian retail, FMCG, telco and financial services firms are approaching a "tipping point" in terms of how they approach content production at scale against a backdrop of flat budgets.

“It’s quite big and it’s also evolving,” he said of Woolworths' “food inspiration” content requirements. “It has become a lot more than a magazine, and very much digital and social.”

“As the brand starts to shift from advertising at consumers, to engaging and inspiring consumers, we think [demand for content] will grow beyond supermarkets and foods,” said Ricketts. “The broader business will have evolving requirements.”

WPP's production house may ultimately hope to carve a route into divisions such as Woolworths Everyday Rewards, Cartology and the New Zealand Countdown supermarkets among other group businesses, much of which is currently delivered via WooliesX and the broader Surry Hills-based integrated operation, which also houses creative and media teams.

Hogarth already supports an in-house team at Big W, dubbed ‘Blue Dot’ which handles omnichannel production across websites, catalogue and social channels. “So this [new deal] is a similar model applied across the group,” said Ricketts.

“It’s a piece of business we set up Hogarth to try and win. We are very excited to see where we can now jointly go.”

Conscious decoupling

Woolworths confirmed Hogarth’s remit to underpin its teams across production of social, digital, print and audio.

The retailer said it has “also identified the opportunity to decouple creative and production, in-housing a number of services to support scale and agility in storytelling”.

According to Head of Branded Content, Keshnee Kemp:

“Bringing a number of creative capabilities in-house enables us to build capability and create data and insight-driven content that meets the needs of our customers at pace, whatever platform that might be on,” she said. “We’re excited to collaborate with Hogarth as we continue the evolution of Today’s Fresh Food People.”

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