First it was Droga5, and now, in the classic 'Christmas dump', where bad news is saved up for when everyone's focusing on some well-earned festive cheer, it was announced yesterday that Publicis Mojo's time in New Zealand is also up. It will be replaced by a new agency called Joy in the new year.
The new agency will be majority owned by Graeme Wills, who until 12 months ago held the role of chief executive and chairman across Publicis Mojo New Zealand/Australia. The other director is listed as Andrew Wynne, a director of Razor Media, which is listed as the only shareholder of the new agency.
According to a release, the opportunity for Wills to purchase Publicis Mojo NZ was tabled by Publicis late last year, but "the sale did not proceed as anticipated". Publicis has indicated that it no longer requires an ongoing presence of Mojo in New Zealand and has chosen voluntarily to appoint liquidators.
"Our intention would be that any clients from Mojo NZ that choose to join Joy would be able to do so seamlessly," Wills said (he was unable to be contacted this morning). "We are excited at the idea of setting up a new communications company that is fresh, unencumbered and full of optimism."
For the Mojo staff, getting such news this close to Christmas presumably won't inspire too much joy or optimism, especially as we've heard they've been locked out of the office (our call to the Mojo office went to answer machine). But it's unclear how many jobs will be affected by this decision or whether this will be something of a switcheroo as staff move to the new agency.
That probably depends on whether the new agency has any work to do so it can pay its staff and while Mojo had plenty of Goodman Fielder brands (including Meadow Fresh, Vogels and Freyas), Reckitt Benckiser, Panasonic, Subway, part of Motorcorp, Hallensteins and Tile Warehouse, as well as Greenpeace and Auckland City Mission, it's not certain they'll stick around. What is is certain is that there will be a few circling agency vultures looking to prosper from the decision.
While we've heard the soon-to-return Toby Talbot may be involved in the new venture, or was at least discussing the possibility of it, that couldn't be confirmed and in an email response from Talbot he said he "has resigned [from his role at RKCR/Y&R]. Coming back. Lots of interest which is flattering. Should be able to announce something in the new year. Sorry to be so coy."
According to the Companies Office, Publicis Mojo was incorporated in 1983, and while it's always sad to see an agency go, especially one that has done so much great work (it was named as New Zealand's most effective agency in 2008 at the end of Nick Worthington's reign), it has been struggling financially for some time now. According to its latest financial statement it lost $486,000 in 2011 on net revenue of $8.4 million, down from a profit of $382,000 in 2010 on net revenue of $11 million. And according to a story in the NBR it didn't turn a profit between 1998 and 2009, with the nadir being a $6 million loss in 2007.
It's also gone through a few executive staff, including short stints from Rebecca Carrasco, Mike Barnwell and Robert Harvey, who was brought in from Zenith Optimedia, and it lost the Lion business to DDB and Shine last year.
It's unclear how Zenith Optimedia will be affected by this decision (Sophia Quillian couldn't be contacted), but it still has Lion, Reckitt Benckiser, Panasonic and Sky City.