Over the past year and a bit, Y&R NZ has been undergoing something of a transformation (as its logo said, 're-est. 2012'). And, along with a new brand, new sub-brands and a swanky new office in the Auckland CBD, there have also been a host of changes to the staff roster in recent months.
Josh Moore was appointed as executive creative director back in 2011 and, soon after the departure of Jon Ramage, James Hurman returned from China to start as managing director. And late last year, after six years at the helm of MEC, Barry Williamson passed his media leadership role down to Cath Hamilton, trading director, and Kelly Beange, media strategy director (Grant Maxwell remains as the general manager of the Wellington media operation). They have been promoted to joint heads of the newly rebranded Y&R Media and Williamson is now contracting. Gillian Gilbride has also joined the media team as TV trader.
Hurman paid tribute to Williamson’s contribution to the business during his tenure, and particularly for the way he nurtured Hamilton and Beange, who worked under him for most of those six years.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in [Hamilton and Beange] as thinkers and leaders,” he says.
There have also been a few big of changes in the creative department, chief among them ex DraftFCBer Billy McQueen, who has come out of retirement to join as creative director. Tom Paine has also been promoted from senior creative to associate creative director.
Other additions include Carlos Savage, ex Barnes, Catmur & Friends and the The Monkeys Sydney, as senior copywriter; Hadleigh Sinclair and Jack Delmonte, who joined from Publicis Mojo; and Kate Lill and Zoe Edwards, who joined from DDB. In Wellington, Mark Tallis and Cam Dowsett have joined from Ogilvy Sydney.
In account service, Aimee Knox, ex Sugar, has joined as an account director; Mike Keen, ex JWT, and Hayley Killip, ex DNA, have joined as account managers; and Holly Gillies has joined as an account exec from university. Elaine Bickell has also come onboard as group account director in Wellington, joining from Saatchi & Saatchi Wellington.
Elsewhere, Mac operator Kerry Forde joined from .99, accounts assistant Mevan Hemachandra joined from outside the industry, and there are also a few graduates in the building, with Isabella Lau joining as planning intern, Steph Cavanett joining as junior designer and Tina Chou joining as media assistant.
Hurman says around half of the roles are new and the rest are replacements.
Late last year, Y&R moved from its fairly dated building in Parnell to a very cool office in the Cityworks Depot in the CBD. Hurman says the move has breathed new life into the agency and “everyone feels great about the building” (as an added bonus, Al Brown’s test kitchen and bagel outfit is right next door so Hurman says there will be no shortage of subjects willing to try out his creations. Bauer Media, the newly rebranded ACP, is also moving there). But when asked if some of the bigger agencies should be looking over their shoulders for a resurgent Y&R this year, he says he's remaining “cautiously confident”.
As well as the main Y&R NZ brand and its 'global boutique' tagline, there's now also Y&R Media, Y&R Design and Y&R Digital. IdeaWorks, its retail arm, remains as is as Hurman says it was a well-known and well-respected retail agency brand (especially in Australia under Jon Bird).
And while trading on the internationally recognised Y&R name partly informed the decision to separate the divisions, Hurman says it was more about “bringing the family and the shared vision and ambition together" (that unifying belief is "there are certain problems, that when solved, unlock disproportionately large commercial success. We exist to drive our clients’ business forward by identifying those pivotal problems and using creativity to solve them.").
“I think what clients want in an agency is obviously good brand and creative thinking, but also a good handle on retail and shopper marketing, smart integrated media and channel thinking, strong digital thinking and design that complements the creative work.” And the main players are confident that's what the new Y&R will offer.