Following yesterday's news that The Media Counsel had gone into voluntary liquidation, Glenda Wynyard has, unsurprisingly, gone to ground and Carat's Ryf Quail has deflected questions to Joy Clark, Carat's PR enforcer in Australia, who wasn't able to be contacted. But StopPress has seen a letter that Wynyard sent to her clients to apologise and offer suggestions as to what they should do and where they should take their business.
The letter doesn't give too many specifics about the reasons behind the decision, saying "there are many reasons that our business faces imminent closure but the most recent is that the purchaser we had pinned our final hopes on offered to take over our client and staff base for free, as at yesterday, leaving us with a financial hole that we will not be able to pull ourselves out from. This particular agency is a company without established accreditation and I can’t see that this would work in the time frame that we have."
So, Wynyard made the decision to close it all down instead and suggested clients transfer their business immediately to Sarah Norrie of G2/MediaCom, someone she says she trusts implicitly.
Norrie says that around 90 percent of the Media Counsel's clients have done just that (Chemistry media, a branch of MediaCom run by Nigel Douglas, has media accreditation). And MediaCom has also taken on some of the Media Counsel's 20-odd staff, which some have said seems quite high.
Not surprisingly, with a big load of new, unexpected clients on the G2 roster, Norrie is "running around like a blue-ass fly", but a professional, assured blue-ass fly who says everything is under control.
Aegis/Carat, who were being used by the Media Counsel after it lost its PMAA accrediatation in October last year, is not on the list of suggested agencies.
"We cannot proceed to work with Aegis as they have effectively frozen us out of their system over the past five days, plus they have recently changed their model so that they handle very little local business, hence the urgency of this matter," Wynyard wrote.
Norrie wouldn't comment on who the agency was that offered to take the clients off Wynyard's hands for free and, at this stage, has no idea how much either Wynyard or Carat are in the can for as a result of the closure. Carat certainly isn't saying anything. But one source says "they'll be freaking out right now".
Wynyard claimed she had $30 million of annualised bookings so *speculative guesstimations ahead* if Carat doesn't have credit insurance it could be liable for between $2-3 million this month, possibly more given the Christmas bills that are rolling in.
Wynyard was hopeful her clients would stay with Mediacom and Norrie once the dust had settled, but she also suggested Kath Watson at OMD, Kevin Blight at Media Map, Derek Lindsay from FCB, Graham Hunter from Hunter Media and Rainmakers as good options for clients who wanted to look for a different agency.
She also gave a word of warning: "Carefully vet the other agencies that will come to feed off our situation. Not all are as good or ethical as they think they are – if they were I would have listed them for you."
Wynyard was made redundant as managing director of McCann Universal in 2006 and she took many of the clients with her when she set up the Media Counsel, so she has some experience in these matters.
"Again, I am so very, very sorry for what is about to erupt. I know that the initial week will be the worst for you all, after the first or second month it starts to settle and then you will be able to get on with life. I really do wish you all a much better end to 2010 than what I have caused for you all at the beginning, all of our clients, without exception have been incredibly supportive and I just feel dreadful about what is to happen."
It remains to be seen whether Wynyard, who one insider called "the Winston Peters of media", will bounce back once again. But most seem to think she will.