Australia's national job agency sacks George Patterson Bates for M&C Saatchi

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SYDNEY -- Australia's three-month old national job agency, Employment National, has sacked the country's largest ad agency, George Patterson Bates, from its $7 million account.

Coinciding with the move, Patts Group Account Director (and one of the agency's most powerful executives) Wayne Tregaskis, who handled the Employment National business, tendered his resignation August 14 and is moving to Italy to work on a marketing project in the Italian telecommunications industry.

Employment National management says the $7 million-plus account has been moved from George Patterson Bates to rival ad agency M&C Saatchi following a review.

"We're disappointed they decided to leave but we wish them well," says Patts chief executive officer Ian Elliot.

The change in advertising direction comes at a time when Employment National has suffered heavy public criticism in Australian media circles over fee structures.

The review was coordinated by Employment National's new Sales and Marketing General Manager, Margaret Fairman, a former Telstra marketing boss who joined Employment National May 1 - the same time the Patts campaign launched.

The Patts campaign, themed "Search for the Hero inside Yourself" and using the song of the same name, drew heavily on emotive imagery to deliver its message that Employment National had arrived. "We believe that Patts did a fantastic job of launching the company," Ms. Fairman says.

However, the Patts campaign did little to give specifics on what and who Employment National was. Ms. Fairman denies speculation Patts' short tenure on the account was an indication the agency had failed.

Employment National is one of 306 companies and charities awarded contracts as part of the Australian Government's move to outsource the handling of unemployed people following the dismantling of the government-run Commonwealth Employment Service.

Employment National won 35% of the government contracts in a tender process. "What we need now is far more specificity, particularly in terms of products and services that we offer employers. That requires a hard-edged retail type communication focus. This is not umbrella branding but more direct marketing," Ms. Fairman says.

"M&C was of interest because they are highly regarded in terms of retail advertising. They are probably one of the most integrated agencies in terms of above-theline and below-the-line capabilities," she adds.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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