Whybin\TBWA says goodbye to two senior staffers, says hello to Starseed PR—UPDATED

WhybinTBWA’s chief executive Todd McLeay had a go at industry rumourmongers telling tales of senior departures in a story in the NBR last week, and while he told StopPress he definitely wasn’t doing that in an interview in April, it has lost a couple of other senior staffers: executive creative director Dave King and client service director Jodi Willocks. But it’s added around eight more after a merger with Starseed PR. 

McLeay says the official statement on King is that he’s still on the payroll and still working for the agency, so it would be inaccurate to say he’s left. But it’s thought he’s currently spending ‘time in the garden’ and they have decided to go their separate ways.  

King arrived at WhybinTBWA around one year ago following the closure of M&C Saatchi in this market and the departure of Toby Talbot to DDB Sydney. He was unable to be reached for comment

UPDATE: King got back to us and says he’s sticking by the official statement that he’s still on the payroll and still working with the agency. 

As for Willocks, who has been with the agency for four-and-a-half years and was promoted to client services director around one year ago, McLeay says she just “wanted a change of pace”.

UPDATE: Willocks is moving to Assignment Group and starts next week to lead the Z business, which the agency recently retained in a pitch

She has been replaced by Robyn Budd, who returned home after 20 years abroad to take on the role of business director in April. 

Budd worked as part of the global TBWA Group for over 14 years across America, Europe and China, and most recently as the vice president of Integer (TBWA’s 1000-strong global shopper retail and promotional marketing agency) in Denver. And McLeay says she’s one of the most experienced people in the agency. 

At Integer, she headed advertising and retail campaigns for the likes of Visa, Procter & Gamble, The Pokémon Company International and Michelin. She also led much of the group’s new business development, thought leadership practices and business vision for key accounts. 

McLeay says it will need to support Budd’s appointment and it’s already a fair way into the process of finding a replacement. 

As for Starseed, which is owned by Angelina Farry and Karen Maurice O’Leary, McLeay says it’s not an acquisition, it’s a merger with Eleven PR and it “agreed mutually beneficial terms”. He wouldn’t discuss the terms of the deal or how much money changed hands, but he said it will be a big boost for its PR and activations arm. 

Here’s the press release about the merger. 

WhybinTBWA is expanding its services by restructuring its existing PR division with the integration of the Starseed agency.

WhybinTBWA will be welcoming Starseed co-founders Karen Maurice-O’Leary and Angelina Farry as group heads, bringing world class strategic and creative skills to the team. To emphasise the expanded capabilities and new direction, it will be rebranded as Eleven.

“Karen and Angelina bring a unique combination of award-winning creative talents as well as industry-leading earned and social media skills to our existing team. The integration of Starseed with our current team’s expertise will provide clients with a complete, true
full-service offering that can touch all parts of their business from corporate communications to risk management, digital, social and more.

“The line between public relations, digital marketing and other parts of the communications mix are becoming increasingly blurred and the cornerstone of any comprehensive communications strategy is increasingly becoming content creation in one form or another. When you get the right content channeled through the right media, it’s a magical thing,” says WhybinTBWA Chief Executive Officer Todd McLeay.

Karen Maurice-O’Leary will take up the role as Eleven’s creative director and Angelina Farry as managing director. Group account director Rebecca Hyndman, account director Louise Cargo and account manager Bayley Kite will be joined by Starseed’s Juno Morgan, Heidi Thompson, Priya Ratan and Kirsty Hitchcock.

“We are looking forward to joining forces with the talented team at WhybinTBWA and drawing on the global resource of PR powerhouse Fleishman Hillard, with whom Eleven is aligned,” says Angelina Farry, managing director of Eleven.

Karen Maurice-O’Leary, previously ranked number 2 top creative in the Asia Pacific region by Campaign Brief, originally started her creative career at WhybinTBWA under Executive Creative Director Andy Blood and is looking forward to returning to 11 Mayoral Drive as creative director of Eleven.

“Our whole team is ready to plug in and hit the ground running. Being in the same building as the country’s leading digital offering, TBWA’s Digital Arts Network (DAN) is hugely exciting. The media landscape is changing at hyper-speed with new opportunities presenting themselves daily. WhybinTBWA has some very exciting plans in the pipeline that we look forward to being a part of in the coming months,” adds Karen Maurice-O’Leary.

Eleven will be operating from the WhybinTBWA office from 8th of June 2015.

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