HBF exits Meerkats and appoints Marketforce

Comments (69)
HBF2.jpgHBF, one of Western Australia's largest advertising accounts, is parting company with its agency of the past three years, Meerkats, and has appointed Marketforce as its new marketing agency. The possible move has been the subject of much speculation over the past few months, especially since the appointment of OMD to HBF's media buying account in August and the recent appointment of Marketforce to the HBF sub brand GMF Health (ex Gatecrasher) which operates in the Goldfields area of Western Australia.

Loretta Sivwright, HBF General Manager of Marketing, Communications & Product praised Meerkats for their work for HBF over the past three years and signalled that a range of factors had led to the change.

"We are about to embark on an exciting new strategy for HBF which will set us on a distinct path for the next 5 years", she said. "With a new strategic direction, coupled with our normal annual review cycle of the agency arrangements, we felt the time was right to review our marketing partner to ensure we had the best possible fit for our needs moving forward".

Marketforce recently pitched and was appointed to a sub brand of HBF that does not compete in the Perth metro area. "Through this pitch process we were very impressed by the level of strategic thinking, creativity and resources Marketforce had to offer and how well suited their overall proposition was to our future needs", Sivwright said.

HBF is WA's largest health insurance provider with approximately 60% market share of the WA health insurance market as well as providing home, car and travel insurance. The organisation has recently stepped up its role in promoting the health and well-being of the WA community, evidenced through its support of initiatives such as HBF Run for a Reason, Ride to Work Day, The WA Triathlon series and the recently announced sponsorship of the HBF Rottnest Channel Swim.

Meerkats MD Gavin Bain said: "We are naturally disappointed to be parting company with HBF. In three years together we've done some great work with great results, and along the way we have been able to grow and attract some great talent. For that we are grateful and respect the decision of HBF to review their agency. All of us at Meerkats wish the HBF team continued success and the very best for the future".

Meerkats will continue working with HBF through a transition period which will conclude in late December 2011.


Name must be provided. said:


Inevitable said:

I feel for Meerkats, but this was always going to happen.

So he said said:

I'll see your WOW and raise you a WTF!

Some things are better left unsaid! said:

BankWest then Tourism WA...

Kleenheat then HBF...

WTF said:

So awards, and in this case a swag of them and meaningful ones too, really don't count in the client's eyes?

Not really sure said:

Must be a hollow win for Marketforce

Harry said:

Of course they were going to leave.
Bike rack client.

Sceptic said:

It's the same old, same old...new Marketing Managers have to raise their leg and mark the new territory...or in this case...

Michelle said:

I moved to Medibank Private in the last year. I think I'm not the only one.

Full Shelf said:

At least the Kats have some nice awards to look at.

Memories said:

Nice words Gavin.

Just goes to show... said:

You can win every award known to man, nationally and internationally, and it's still just a case of not what you know but who you know!

Shop Around said:

GMHBA...half the price and twice the product!

Coat tails said:

Hang on really tightly Marketforce

Kramer said:

Karma I say.

WTH said:

average advertising here we come... WTF were they thinking appointing MF

Anonymous said:

Bupa is the way to go both now and in the future! Watch this space!

Do the math said:

Add in this account and you would still have to say MF have lost a net 10 million in billings over the past 2 years

Anon said:

It was always going to happen - Loretta is a long time client of MF from SGIO days and other small clients over the years and good friends with John Driscoll. Hollow win for Marketforce - nothing the Kats could do here.

Sick in the stomach said:

Your relationship is all that matters.

TOF said:

Mmm! See the real important stuffs floated to the top, again!!!!. Industry preoccupation with MF

Ted said:

Isn't that four agencies in six years? Let me see... Gatecrasher, 303, Meerkats, Marketforce. Is that right?

FAIR ONE said:

Sounds like a lot of sore losers out there...can see why you guys didn't keep, or alternatively win the business...!

At the end of the day everyone knows everyone in this Industry - half of Marketforce previous employees, are at Meerkats and other agencies. If JD know's people, its becuase he has worked hard to know them, and keep impressing them with a service and creative that was better then all others...Something all good Account Managers, Directors and CEO's should focus on more.

A congratulations for the win to MF would be a nice thing to say and a more honourable way to behave in business... I don't pretend to work there, nor know many of the people there anymore, but I know MF are doing very well compared to alot of other agencies. They have after all been around longer than most in WA. Anyone would be naive to underestimate their experience and abilties. 80% of you have likely launched your career through MF or worked there at some point and wouldn't be where you are today without that experience..

I say well done MF...Yes you have taken some knocks over the recession years as all agencies have, its how you climb back to the top that matters.. We all know you are very good at doing that! Congratulations...Keep up the good work.

Extreme sport said:

It's like an addiction MF come out with the most ridiculous and up yourself press releases you just can't help trying to give them the shits

Howard said:

I think MF and HBF are a good fit - structurally and philosophically

Don't waste my time said:

At least the 'kats didn't have to pitch!

um ma said:

stupid HBF, the Kats convinced me, not sure how MF will go

Anonymous said:

With all due respect, seriously, HBF left Meerkats for this?

Fretzy said:

Congrats MF

Anonymous said:

Hopefully filmed in WA and not over East!

Novel idea of credit where due said:

Well said, TOF and FAIR ONE. Well done MF!

Sensible said:

Well done MF on winning such an iconic West Aussie brand! Awards don't necessarily = results.

Nitpicker said:

FAIR ONE, your grammar is appalling.

The gift said:

Didn't really win it
It was given to them

As someone once said:

It's a win. And a wins a win.
And it will always beat a loss.

Ho hum said:

Well its back to predictable 80s insurance advertising
Both the marketing manager and agency are good at it

The real thing said:

Let's see how Marketforce go when Road Safety comes up.
A real pitch!
Maybe their friendship with Roger will be all they need

Kevin Shitey said:

1.44 did they seriously do that Programmed thing? KS should have used the last piece of the puzzle to build a giant pooh!

Congratulations said:

I agree with Fair One - Congratulations MF.
It seems as if people have small minds in Perth, and even smaller memories.
MF is working hard to recover from the recession and I applaud that.
To the sore losers and gripers: please find a life!

results said:

Results you say Sensible? Tell us more. I can only guess results must have been really bad. MF will do good results, don,t you think?

The results are public said:

If you want to know the results, it's not that hard. It's on the HBF website. Growth in policies has been 4.2% in 2010/11. Not bad I reckon given heavy competition and, really, as the dominant player in WA, they should really be only expecting to lose market share.

impressive said:

You can see why HBF is so impressed by "the level of strategic thinking, creativity and resources Marketforce had to offer and how well suited their overall proposition was to our future needs"...

CB hosts the the previous magic she and MF created together:

Very clever.

The Ghost. said:

So many questions unanswered. Why do we let this happen? Awards?
Have these been considered? If not ,why do we run league tables? Obviously all the effort we put into awards means nothing when we get to what clients really want. Shame on you Meerkats. The real business of business has been left behind. Why?

Another client of Meerkats said:

Mmmm, I think it's time we looked at our schedule of fees.

John said:

Wise words Ghost.

Your RAC is all you need said:

This obviously adds a new dimension to the approaching RAC review this year.

MF probably had little chance coming off the year that they have had but Meerkats and 303 will give this a huge shake.

East is best. said:

Ok. I just got back from the east office and feel I need to comment on this thread. Looks like we need to get things into perspective. IF THE DUCKS WERE LINED UP we would not be in this situation. What we have here is a lack of order and a complete disregard for a 'can do' attitude. Enough said. Back to work everyone.

Anonymous said:

A few words to the wise for all you indignant advertising wannbes who have been in the industry 5 minutes. Most business is won before a pitch. The smart clients don't go through the charade of a formal pitch and appoint their agency primarily because of chemistry and a confidence in the agency's all round ability. Those that are forced into a pitch process by oxygen thieves known as Procurement Managers have made up their minds anyway, well before the score cards are filled in and "debated".
As for awards. spare us all. They are like every other peer voted shams out there. They are firstly ego strokes for the entrant, secondly money spinners for the organisers and thirdly CV fillers for the winner who is about as loyal to their employer as Kevin Rudd is to Julia Gillard. Notice clients don't even feature in the top 3!
So. pick up your slimy little dummies from the floor and spend the next few minutes figuring out how you can make a difference to your clients' business. if after 10 minutes you've got nothing, do the honourable thing and resign. You could get a job at an Award Show somewhere.

TheJoker said:

I think the timing is perfect, Marketforce has almost completed their building renovations and as they exclaim in their signage when you enter the building "Now we are getting creative with our building" , it means they wont have to be as creative with their billings to pay for the refurbisment

Senior Writer said:

11.39. I've been working in the industry for over 3 years now. In fact, I'm a senior writer at one of the big 3 in Perth. I don't agree with your comments. I've worked my way through the ranks and I've picked up my fair share of PADC metal. I know how our industry operates. So don't tell me what's going on. 'Won before the pitch.' Get real! HBF won GOLD mate. That counts for something. I'm thinking of starting a new start up shop soon. I'm looking forward to pitching against you old man.

Annonymous said:

11.39am - GOLD! Seriously can't stop laughing..... spot on!
as for 1.34pm - Your TOP 3 employer is half the problem in the industry at the moment. 3 years experience and a senior title.... need I say anymore
Signed 24 years experience

B said:

1.34pm Senior Writer - oh please stop your embarrassing yourself!

A.Ward. said:

11.39 that may be the case to some here in Perth, but outside of the most isolated market in the world, creative prowess means an enormous amount when choosing an agency partner. It's why global giants like Proctor and Gamble send their people to Cannes every year to be inspired by creative people and creative thinking. They recognise that creativity that goes beyond ticking boxes and massaging comfort zones makes all the difference in today's market. And it's not just by some random coincidence that this level of work wins not only hearts, minds and market share but also big shiny gongs.
Ask the CEO's and marketing heads of organisations such as Apple, Sony, NIKE, Adidas, Coca cola, The Economist, CUB, DHL,Unilever,Heinekin, Pepsico, Novartis, Old Spice etc how they feel about the Gold Lion winning campaigns their agencies have created for them over the years. I think you'll find that sham is the last word you'll hear them utter and thank you the first.
Now having said my piece and picked up my 'slimy' dummy, i've taken your advice and figured out how I can make a real difference to my clients business. I'm going to really push myself to create a campaign that is highly relevant, original and impactful. A piece of creative thinking that will build their brand, win their respect and HOPEFULLY a few awards along the way that we can celebrate together.

Dear11.39 said:

11.39 you have pretty much given up your anonymity. A very bitter, jaded person who doesn't understand the real world and is out of his depth - what is it ? 3 companies you've worked for in perth in your whole life? Who ever 1.34 is , I hope you do beat the old man.

Jack said:

A Senior Writer, after all of 3 years. You must have garnered a lifetimes experience in that time and i look forward to reading about it in your forthcoming autobiography 'Young , dumb and full of....'

Dear11.39 fan said:

There are so many bitter jaded Perth advertising people. How could you guess who 11.39 is? You have too many to choose from. If you think you really know who it is. Send your answer to largepimplepop@hotmail.com. If you guess the correct jaded Perth ad person.
You will win a prize from CB. Good luck.

I'm just sayin said:

A. Ward you've nailed it - "build their brand, win their respect and HOPEFULLY a few awards"; thats what a client wants, in that order.

I'm sure the global companies you mention get warm fuzzies from winning awards, but if the agency/client partnership isn't ultimately making cash registers ring (ie winning "hearts, minds and market share") neither the marketing head nor agency would be around long enough to enjoy them.

As an aside, if this discussion is any indication of where the industry is at in Perth then I reckon we've all got much more to worry about than a client switching agencies ...

Think they know everything said:

Senior Writer-

3 whole years?
Bless your socks.

And the winner is... said:

Great to catch up with everyone yesterday at the lunch. Yes. My head hurts as well. Thanks CB. The overall feeling yesterday was that 11.39 is a tool. Creatives need to stand up for awards because our life will be pretty dull without them. And we will all be poorer. If this anti award thing kicks in we are in trouble. Enter now.

Perspective said:

You're all taking yourselves and our industry waaaaaay too seriously.

An actual client said:

We are in business to do business not win awards. There is no section in our reports called "number of awards won". This is not something I am measured on and I couldn't really care less. Of course awards are nice but that's all they are and the glow soon fades. In fact, if my agency wins lots of awards while my business doesn't perform I start to ask who is the agency working for and what are they most focused on? This is not a game, it's fun but it's serious fun. I think some in this industry may have their priorities the wrong way round.

1 said:

Dear actual client,

You may be a client, but are you a smart marketer?

Here, this might make sense of this whole award thing for you:

Awards are a measure of success INSIDE the industry. So awards are a signal of good place to work, an employer (brand) of choice. Best talent = best work. No good people = no good work. Do you know what good work is?

Have you watched any award submissions lately? Pay attention to the results part.

There is nobody in this industry, client or agency (well, maybe a few of the waste-of-space kids on this blog), who could deny that the truly deserving award winning stuff* happens to be the stuff that works. *Craft categories are a more complex debate.

But peoples’ definitions of ‘what works’ varies.

You mentioned sales, but you didn’t mention time. If it doesn’t occur to you that good ideas (those recognised by awards) are of value to your brand and the long term value of your business, you are probably very good at part of your job. Get those phones ringing mister.

Judge Judy said:

Gold for Best Use of Irony to Wind Up People Who Just Don't Get Irony goes to Senior Writer (November 8, 2011 1:34 PM) Gold for Best Use of Indignant Rage from People Who Just Don't Get Irony goes to everyone else.

Sad for HBF said:

I feel for HBF's marketing team and feel this is the beginning of the end of a great brand.

I agree with you 1 (aka: 2.14) in that the best agencies tend to win more creative awards. That being said, the absence of awards is not necessarily an indicator that an agency has less talented personnel, or that they are less attractive places to work, or that they necessarily do worse work, or achieve lesser results than their peers. I say this because it’s possible to infer the above from your comments, and IMO that's not the truth.

RE: The account move from Meerkats to Marketforce...well it's just that, isn't it: an account move. Hardly the first, hardly the last. Whether or not such a move is warranted is solely for the client to decide, and rightly or wrongly they thought it was necessary.

I for one (mostly) loved the work Meerkats did on the account and applaud them for doing a great job in differentiating their client in what is a pretty generic category - hats off to Mike and Ronnie.

I also look forward to what Pat and Ben will do with the opportunity. Myself I think they'll take advantage of it. History shows that anyone who writes off Marketforce is not a student of history.

And as for all the acerbic commentary from those too young to know any better, well if the Communication Council has their way, then your days of anonymous posting on CB are clearly numbered. Time to mind your manners children!

2 said:

I'm with you 'Crazy LIke a Fox'... However, my earlier post must have been censored as I didn't express my opinion with as much class as you – it said something about creative egos getting in the way of the client's business. That said, my post would've been a pretty good argument as to why anonymous posting on CB should be outlawed!

An ex-client said:

I agree with you "An Actual Client". I started off in Marketing and crossed over to advertising.

I've noticed that there is WWAAAAYYYYY to much emphasis on who has the most awards. Yes awards measure success...yes awards look great on the credentials documents and yes they look great displayed in reception. But you can't call yourself the best when it's not an even playing field (considering not all agencies enter).

Outside the (advertising) industry no one cares about awards. Clients just want an agency they can work well with and for their brand to be the best in its category.

At the end of the day it's just an account move...it happens...get over it.

But most importantly congratulations Marketforce! All the best with the new account.

@8.46 said:

Spoken like a true MF employee. Awards represent effectiveness and creativity. To quote you "get over it" and the actual client sounds like a typical backward Perth exec living in their country bubble.

An ex client said:

No, I am not an MF employee and I am not a previous employee either.

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