Y&R NZ unaffected by Aussie management shift, merger with JWT ‘not going to happen’

Howcroft and Marsh

Nigel Marsh, the chief executive of Y&R Brands Australia and New Zealand, will soon step down from the role. He will be replaced by Russel Howcroft, the national chief executive of George Patterson Y&R in Australia and the man Y&R New Zealand’s chief executive John Ramage reports to.

Ramage says the change in the upper Y&R echelons in Australia is unlikely to affect the New Zealand branch.

“[Howcroft] has effectively been my boss anyway, so that won’t change,” he says. “And we’re reasonably self-sufficient.”

Marsh took over at Y&R Brands, which includes Wunderman, Campaign Palace, Ideaworks, PPR and others, in 2008 when the company was in a spot of bother. At the time, there was a court case in progress over its purchase of George Patterson and soon after he started it lost the big Telstra Clear account (and a few staff as a result). But Ramage says Marsh has succeeded in his goal of getting the company back on track and it is now well and truly back into growth mode, winning a range of new business since then, including Nokia, Microsoft, Medibank, Perpetual, V8, Virgin and Generation One.

Unlike its Aussie counterparts, however, Ramage says the New Zealand office hasn’t faced any of the same difficulties and “it’s always been one of the stronger offices” in the network.

He says only Avis and Arnott’s are shared by the Australian and New Zealand branches, but they do share resources, like digital IP in Brisbane and creative resources in Sydney and Melbourne. And, in this climate, he says they are now sharing those resources more often.

Ramage is unsure if he will be getting a new boss out of the deal. But Howcroft is due to visit later this week, so he says he’ll probably find out then.

Howcroft has been active in industry issues in Australia as former chairman of the AFA (The Communications Council) and has served on the boards of several arts and charitable organisations. He is also on the board of the Melbourne Football Club and is a regular panelist on the ABC’s advertising show, The Gruen Transfer.

Howcroft said Marsh, who was at Leo Burnett previously, was one of the brains behind Earth Hour for WWF and is planning on taking a break to write his third book before considering his next corporate role, is “one of the most charismatic and dynamic leaders in this business and has been an outstanding motivator of the Y&R Brands team”.

And Marsh, who will be on hand to assist if required, said: “It’s been an intense and rewarding time. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved. Future prospects are genuinely exciting and in Russel we have the perfect successor to realise that potential. I’m biased as he is a good friend but I believe he will be not only an outstanding leader of the group but a much needed spokesman and champion for the industry.”

And, hat tip Mumbrella, here’s an appropriately themed speech he gave recently at TEDx Sydney about work-life balance.

Youtube Video

And in other Y&R news, StopPress was told recently about a possible merger between Y&R and JWT, which just welcomed a new managing director, Simon Lendrum, in June. Ramage has also heard the rumour and says categorically “that’s not going to happen; that’s not on anyone’s agenda.”

While both are owned by WPP, he says there are conflicts and they are separate trading entities. The two companies are also in different buildings and they’re both reasonably large, but they are sharing some IT resources, which may go some way to explaining the conclusion jumping. If there was going to be a merger, he thought it would’ve been with G2, which joined up with Blackwood Communications Group recently to form bcg².

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