Following on from the report of two departures at DDB earlier this week—and what DDB says was the unrelated resignation of Chris Riley—we followed up on comments suggesting there were more departures than DDB chief executive Justin Mowday was letting on. He referred us to Rapp managing director Robert Limb, who confirmed the staff count on the third floor of the building would also be going down.
"We're making some minor adjustments," Limb told StopPress. "No more than five team members will be leaving."
These changes are being made in response to Rapp's loss of the Spark account earlier this month. And although the agency has picked up the Air New Zealand Airpoints business as well as a few new projects for Air New Zealand and Westpac, he says this is not enough to offset the impact of losing the telco, which it held for eight years.
Limb says that all departing staff members currently work in the creative department, with creative director Tim Wood the most senior staff member to leave.
Wood first joined the Rapp in 2012 (when it was still known as Rapp Tribal) and has won various local and international awards during this stint. He was part of the team that helped to re-launch Rapp as a standalone agency in 2013, and he has seen it win business for Air New Zealand, BMW/Mini, Pumpkin Patch and Auckland City Mission.
Limb thanked Wood for his contribution to the agency and said that he was integral in consolidating Rapp's digital design capabilities. In the interim, DDB executive creative director Shane Bradnick will step in to take over Wood's role.
It's long been clear that DDB hoped to win the Spark business, but Rapp losing the direct account to Proximity means that dream is close to over. Sources say Touchcast is now Spark's lead agency, so wresting the business away from DDB in a joint play with Proximity was a smart move from the Clemenger Group. And while Saatchi & Saatchi is still on Spark's books, it's recently been taken off retainer, so that would appear to leave Colenso BBDO in a good position to angle in on the creative business at some stage (adding to the melee, Consortium is busy on the business side, Goodfolk just did a campaign for Spark Digital and it's also thought Assignment Group is involved with Spark Ventures).
On the media side, these changes have led to some speculation about the role—and location—of Dynamo, with one source saying Spark had sent a letter asking it to move in with its Clemenger Group agencies. Jason Paris, who is set to officially take over Chris Quin's job in July (but is unofficially already thought to be doing it), says there is no directive from Spark on where Dynamo should be located. But if it does move, it will be to better serve Spark. One source says Spark is happy with its work, it has proven its value since it was established and it just upped its fee.
When asked if it was on the move, Dynamo general manager Drew de Santis said in an email that there is a space issue with the wider Omincom Media Group, which includes OMD and Spark PHD (which recently handed Vodafone over to Y&R and probably wouldn't mind another big telco).
"Dynamo is growing and we are currently investigating options to house the growing team. There will be absolutely no redundancies in Dynamo and we will still very much be working with DDB on our shared clients."
In related news, after leaving DDB, Chris Riley is thought to be working on a project for Spark looking at media efficiency. Andrew Stone and Kate Thomas, one of the founding members of Dynamo, have also followed this path.
Spark is currently hunting for a replacement to take over Paris's existing role. He says Riley isn't in line for that. But it hopes to have the candidates narrowed down in four weeks. Until then, Kayne Munro and Charlotte Findlay have been put on the leadership team for, respectively, commercial and brand and comms and they will eventually report to Paris' replacement.