Home > The Body Politic > EXCLUSIVE STORY: Anti-asset sale Flash Occupation at Clemenger BBDO offices!

EXCLUSIVE STORY: Anti-asset sale Flash Occupation at Clemenger BBDO offices!



Background: The Company

Clemenger Group Limited is the holding company of a group of companies involved in advertising and marketing communications services throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the largest communications group in Australia and New Zealand. Clemenger Group Limited has about 1500 employees and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. 26% of the shares are held by Clemenger Communications staff and 74% by BBDO Worldwide. BBDO Worldwide is in turn part of the Omnicom Group, which the largest communications group in the world.”

Source:  Wikipedia Clemenger Group

Source: Clemenger Group/About CGL

Background: Asset Sales

Last year, National opened a tender for companies which might be interested in a multi-million dollar contract to handle an advertising/publicity campaign for up-coming asset sales,

Advertising agencies are working through the Christmas holiday period to meet a Treasury request for proposals to provide the advertising and communications campaigns that will accompany the Government’s partial privatisation agenda over the next three years.

While no budget is given for the contract, it is likely to be one of the largest new pieces of Government-funded advertising work agencies have seen for some time, but they have been given just 28 days to respond over the traditional shutdown period of Christmas and New Year.

See: TVNZ News: Ad agencies scramble for asset sales contract

On at least two fronts, the tender process was seen as dubious by various groups.


A formal Request for Proposals was issued on Decermber 15, with a deadline of January 9 for responses, leading industry veterans to suggest the Treasury has already made a choice of agency, but needs to follow Government rules requiring a tender process.

Advertising consultant and agency developer Mike Hutcheson says it is likely the Treasury already knows who they will give the job to, and this kind of fast-tracking is typical of such Government contracts.

“It’s a bit of a charade that Government departments and local authorities always go through because their choice is quite limited. There will be relatively few who can actually handle it,” said Hutcheson.

“Government departments have to go through a process and in fact it’s meant to be quite a transparent process, but usually it’s pre-determined.

“There will be someone in Government who would favour someone for sure. They’ll want someone to win, and whoever it is generally knows in advance”. “

See: Ibid

Secondly, the Green Party pointed out that seeking tenders for contracts over the December/Christmas and Easter period contravened Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) Guidelines for best-practice. The Guidelines states,

Unless it is unavoidable, government entities should be sensitive to the needs of busy people and not initiate tendering processes in the three weeks before Christmas, the week after Christmas and around Easter.”

See: Asset sale contract ‘broke rules’

So, not only was the timing of the tender process seen as disturbingly hasty by some – but it was held over a period which the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet guidelines itself stated quite clearly, should be avoided.

A spokeswoman for Treasury, Chris Major, said whilst Treasury was ‘mindful’ of DPMC’s guidelines, that,

Those guidelines note that RFPs should be avoided at Christmas if possible; in the case of the Mixed Ownership Model programme it was deemed necessary and unavoidable to proceed with procuring advertising and communications services in December/January.”

See: Ibid

It’s hard to understand why Treasury wanted “to proceed with procuring advertising and communications services in December/January”  – no advertising or publicity has taken place either last year or this year.  Only a website has been put up, and there is no apparent reason for urgency in that regard.

Someone, it appears, was in a hurry to award this particular contract.

The tender process closed on 9 January 2011, and the lucrative contract was awarded to Australian-based company,  Clemenger BBDO, thereafter,

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said Treasury made decisions about contracts.”

In which case, why have a Minister of the Crown?  Why not have Treasury run the country (gods forbid)?

Is this  the sort of  “personal responsibility” that National continually demands from the public – but not from themselves?  The “Buck Does Not Stop Here”, obviously.

Clemenger BBDO will be paid a multi-million dollar sum for the contract, but National has refused to disclose the figure, citing “commercial sensitivity”,

Finance Minister Bill English yesterday told Parliament the cost of the contracts were commercially sensitive but the Government would release figures ”in due course”.”

In effect, politicians are handing over unknown  millions of dollars of our money, to corporates,  to sell our own state assets, to corporates.

Al Capone was in the wrong job.

Tuesday, 28 August: Aotearoa is Not For Sale organised another ‘Flash Occupation’ – this time targetting Clemenger BBDO in Kent Tce, Wellington.

At around 2pm, the small group of a dozen activists – some in corporate attire – met at Te Aro (Pigeon) Park, in Manners St. The group discussed tactics; reaffirmed a committment to non-violence; and practiced singing several anti-sale songs. The songs were popular titles such as “Down by the Riverside“, which had been adapted for the current situation, and re-titled, “We’re gonna stop the asset sales“,



Placards and banners were prepared, including this new one, “No Asset Sales – No Higher Prices – No Corporate Welfare“,



All in readiness, the group set off to Kent Tce, a ten minute walk from the Park,



The group was in good spirits, and continued practicing singing the songs we would soon be sharing at the offices of Clemengers,



Target dead ahead; the corporate offices of Australian-based, Clemengers BBDO. Interesting to note that being an overseas-owned company, any fees paid to this company will be remitted offshore, to foreign shareholders.

The sale of our state assets was already resulting in the outflow of profits to overseas investors,



A brief demonstration took place outside the company’s doors. Considering the honking of car horns, it was evident that the public supported our presence, and more importantly, the message we were conveying,




The group then headed into the building,



The target of our ‘Flash Occupation’, emblazoned on the wall of the ground floor foyer,



And into the Reception Area, where a startled receptionist was the first to see the messages we had brought to Clemengers,



The Flash Occupation broke into song, as we moved through the offices,



At all times, the event was recorded. Not just to spread the event through on-line video, but to protect against mischievous allegations of violence or damage,



As the protestr moved through the offices, leaflets were distributed outlining why we were there and explaining why Clemenger’s participation in asset sales was unacceptable,



We sang our protest songs with gusto, and this blogger noticed more than a few office workers smiling to themselves. (Ok, we won’t be appearing any time soon on the next  “New Zealand’s Top Idol“…)



But we gave the Clemenger’s staff seated behind the activists entertainment, and a clear message: Aotearoa is not for sale!



At this point, Clemenger’s Wellington Managing Director, Andrew Holt (center, white shirt), appeared and advised us that the police had been called and that we should leave.

We stood firm. We had more songs to sing, and a final message to read out,



The singing continued. We would not move on until our message had been delivered, in full, and understood by everyone at Clemengers,




Andrew Holt  (standing behind banner) stood with some of his staff (unseen, behind banner), as the singing came to an end,



Shane read out a message, as Andrew Holt looked on, and  listened,

“The power companies Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy, and Meridian Energy belong to those who built them from scratch, benefitted from them in the past and benefit  from them today;

all New Zealanders.

The proposed sale of these State Owned Assets means the transfer from public into private ownership of these essential national services. We know that this will result in higher power prices for thepublic and loss of control of our electricity-generating capacity.

We think your role in this process is outrageous and we, as members of the public, object to paying fees to you to help sell what we already own.

No sale of state assets!”

In the background, another Clemengers staffer can be seen on the phone – talking with police?



Having delivered the message, the ANFS activists departed from the building peacefully, and with no damage or mess  left behind.

Another Flash Occupation peacefully and successfully completed, the group separated and departed.

Clemengers was now the second corporation, connected to asset sales, that had been visted by a Flash Occupation.

See: Anti-Sale protestors invade Bell Gully offices





Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.


NZ Parliament:  Questions for Oral Answer: State-owned Energy Companies and Air New Zealand, Sales—Contracts for Related Services

Scoop.co.nz: Govt ignores ad guidelines for SOE contract

Fairfax: Asset sale contract ‘broke rules’


Aotearoa Is Not For Sale – Facebook

Aotearoa Is Not For Sale – Website



= fs =

  1. Mick
    29 August 2012 at 7:27 am

    great work …again .

  2. Shane Hayes
    29 August 2012 at 8:20 am

    Excellent coverage Frank, and good links to that blog too.

    • 29 August 2012 at 8:42 am

      Thanks, Shane, Mick! I’m happy to assist a great team of people.

  3. 29 August 2012 at 8:29 am

    brilliant work!!

  4. John Chapman
    29 August 2012 at 8:41 am

    I’m of the view these gestures are counter productive Frank but they do play to the gallery..

    • 29 August 2012 at 8:45 am

      Oh? Why countrer productive, John?

      • John Chapman
        29 August 2012 at 9:24 am

        Gesture politics Frank. A lot are put of by this sort of merry prankster style of protest which changes nothing. The ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign is doing excellent work. This may dissuade some people from signing. A This point in the campaign signatures are harder to get as those that are already against asset sales have signed. now we need to persuade..

  5. 29 August 2012 at 9:25 am

    John Chapman :

    Gesture politics Frank. A lot are put of by this sort of merry prankster style of protest which changes nothing. The ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign is doing excellent work. This may dissuade some people from signing. A This point in the campaign signatures are harder to get as those that are already against asset sales have signed. now we need to persuade..


  6. Ariana
    29 August 2012 at 9:38 am

    Adding to what Shane has stated, thank you for lending your time, energy and skills to `stop the sale of our assets’. We and all NZ is very fortunate to have you. x

  7. Ralph
    29 August 2012 at 10:13 am

    Those advertising types deserve a visit like this 🙂

  8. Ralph
    29 August 2012 at 10:18 am

    Hey Im really proud of you guys, no-one could call that an unruly rabble. In fact most of you are better dressed than the staff at BBDO. Brilliant and in the true spirit of Flash! I bet they had something to mutter about around the water cooler for days 🙂

    • 29 August 2012 at 10:47 am


    • 29 August 2012 at 11:09 am

      “In fact most of you are better dressed than the staff at BBDO. “

      Actually, Ralph, I hadn’t noticed that – but yes, you’re 100% correct!! In fact, we were better dressed than Mr Holt!! (Jeans at work are so 1990s… )

    • 29 August 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Ralph, I think that our attire put them in a position where they felt that they had to be well-mannered.

  9. Secret Squirrel 007
    29 August 2012 at 11:15 am

    I am so not voting National again next election. I’m voting either Winston or Labour. John Key has been a big disapoiointment for me! All these companies are getting rich at my expense and my son can’t even find a job for himself. I’m expecting to be made redundant soon as well.

    Thanks Mr Key. you’ve managed to put the shits up my whole family.

  10. Sharlene
    29 August 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Agree with everything Secret Squirrel has said above. And well done for doing your bit to help our country, Frank and all you other protesters. Keep up the great work!

  11. 29 August 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you for your work Frank. I like the way you also detail the background information into the organisation of the Government contracts.

    • 29 August 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks, Athena. It’s my privilege to assist the ANFS group as much as I can. *thumbs up*

  12. 29 August 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Absolutely orsom, indeed great work done by you n the group, just laughing at the song choice, i notice some of yous were dressed to the nines, so much i can say about the Managing directer he looked dressed to go to a rugby match, i suppose some of us can learn to imitate a well organized group of (ANFS) activist n get the message across in a peaceful n nonagressive manner,mmmm good example,just one thing how did the group find out that this company ”CLEMENGERs” was responsible (laughing) have we got a snoop dog in the house!! hehehe ok i’ll zipit for now….we may not of been part of but our thoughts n spirits r with you good work thankyou frank for keeping us informed n for getin the message across n supporting those who dearly want to keep these assets ours ……

  13. Adi Leason
    30 August 2012 at 8:36 am

    Love your work – well done to all involved

  14. frances
    30 August 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Frank thanks a lot for your great report on ANFS action; will pass this on to friends for them to view with great pleasure. This govt makes so many so mad, but we can at least try to squeeze some fun out of the whole thing.
    Look forward to reading about the next action

  1. 13 September 2012 at 9:25 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: