M&C Saatchi's staff ranks have changed substantially in the last seven days. And its client roster has followed suit after it was announced that ANZ has officially cut ties with the agency.
"We will be discontinuing agency services from 2010," new M&C CEO Darryn Melrose says.
Melrose, who replaced Nick Baylis as CEO last week and discussed his plans for digital domination with StopPress here, says the news was "99.9 per cent" certain before he arrived on the scene–although he says he was still holding out for the 0.1 per cent chance the status quo would remain.
"These things don't get changed overnight. They can be a little bit of a process," he says. "The move was expected and, for me, that's the reason I'm here."
Despite the lack of surprise on his part, he says no agency likes losing accounts (particularly if they happen to be major banks) and he feels for his colleagues who have worked so hard on it over the last six years.
"From what I hear, the relationship has been pretty tricky for quite a few years. Some people worked really, really hard on it, so for them, it's very disappointing. But, from the outside coming in, it was expected, and I think that's pretty apparent."
He wouldn't comment on the reasons behind ANZ's decision to vamoose or if it had anything to do with to the man he replaced, Nick Baylis, but he did say it is unrelated to his relationship with ANZ/National marketing head Mike Cunnington, as Hazel Phillips claimed in the NBR.
"I've got to say, I didn't like [the NBR story]. There's no bad blood between Mike and I. There's none. It makes Mike look unprofessional and he's not."
Asked if the departure of ANZ was a mixed blessing for M&C he says: "I understand the positive aspect of this decision and it will allow us a chance to refocus."
On digital, perhaps?
"Digital is complementary. We'll keep doing what we already do well. But it's about bringing it into the mix. It's not one or the other."
The NBR speculated that DDB, DraftFCB, Assignment, Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy are all in the mix for the account when it goes to pitch.
An ANZ spokesperson says: "ANZ will not be commenting on the appointment process for a new lead creative agency at this time as the process has not been completed."