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

28 August 2012 23 comments

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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.

Firstly,

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“,

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

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

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

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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,

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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,

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The group then headed into the building,

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

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

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

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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,

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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,

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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“…)

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

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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,

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

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

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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?

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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

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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.

Additional

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’

Contact

Aotearoa Is Not For Sale – Facebook

Aotearoa Is Not For Sale – Website

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