Bellamy Hayden set to be merged into Naked as Photon Group EGM looms

naked_mumbrellabellamy_hayden_mumbrellaBellamy Hayden, one of Australia’s most respected strategy agencies, may be about to close its doors, with surviving staff likely to move to fellow Photon Group agency Naked Communications.

Mumbrella understands that several Bellamy Hayden staff were told today that their jobs were at risk, with some told not to come in tomorrow.

A formal announcement on the future of Bellamy Hayden is planned for Monday, Mumbrella understands. It is unclear what the upheavals mean for Bellamy Hayden’s spin-off PR agency Chatterbox.

The move looks to be one of several involving Photon Group’s smaller agencies coming together.

Photon is holding an extraordinary general meeting at 11am tomorrow to sign off its recapitalisation, with the outcome of the meeting not entirely a foregone conclusion. The group, which owns some of Australia’s best known agencies including BMF, BWM, Mark PR and Frank PR, was forced into a major restructure after it became clear that it would struggle to pay earnouts to founders of some of the agencies it has purchased.

This afternoon, Photon told the ASX that Naked co-founder Jon Wilkins was stepping down as MD of the group’s integrated communications and digital division and would instead become head of group development and strategy “with a mandate to drive greater collaboration amongst Photon agencies”.

When Mumbrella asked Wilkins about Bellamy Hayden changes this morning, he issued a firm denial, adding: “And I should know.”

Photon also confirmed that BMF’s founder Matthew Melhuish will become head of Australian agencies in a move that has been on the cards since June.

Earlier today Photon’s London-based corporate comms agency Likemind and brand consultancy Corporate Edge announced a merger under the Corporate Edge banner.

More than one source has suggested to Mumbrella that other consolidations will take place across the Photon Group.

Naked and Bellamy Hayden are arguably Australia’s two best comms strategy agencies. In theory, bringing the teams together would provide a formidable offering.

Although there are not many obvious client conflicts across the Bellamy Hayden and Naked portfolio, last month PepsiCo retained Bellamy Hayden as its media strategy agency, while handing media planning and buying duties to PHD. However Naked Communications has a long standing relationship with Coca Cola. While it remains to be seen whether that conflict could be managed, a plausible outcome would be Naked giving priority to its deep relationship with Coca Cola.


  1. Tom
    16 Sep 10
    10:25 pm

  2. Wow.
    Not surprising.
    But wow.

  3. Vivian Ward
    16 Sep 10
    10:29 pm

  4. Feel for all involved who lost their jobs or are about to.

  5. Anonymous
    17 Sep 10
    8:33 am

  6. I’m just trying to figure out where they are going to put more bodies in the Naked office? hmm

  7. Anonymous vitriol
    17 Sep 10
    9:05 am

  8. The comment above can be hilariously misread…


  9. Jase
    17 Sep 10
    9:59 am

  10. A farewell to an agency that delivers extraordinary work and goes the extra mile for clients – a shame! The competition pool has just been weakened.

    You don’t realise until working on the inside just how much effort the bh team go to for any client on any task. All the best my friends..

  11. Nathan
    17 Sep 10
    12:39 pm

  12. Agreed Jase :)

  13. NotSurprised
    17 Sep 10
    1:05 pm

  14. Having dealt with BH over a number of years on the client side I can see how badly the quality of their work and service has deteriorated. They were ONCE one of Australia’s best comms strategy agencies, but no more I’m afraid. I’m not surprised.

  15. Anonymous
    17 Sep 10
    1:25 pm

  16. @ NotSurprised
    I think the fact that they were the top media agency in Australia for Media Federation finalists might suggest the quality of their work is not in question

  17. Oh dear
    17 Sep 10
    1:41 pm

  18. @Anonymous

    Finalists are different from winners last time I checked.

  19. Dear oh dear
    17 Sep 10
    2:16 pm

  20. Surely that’s a little ignorant. By being nominated so many times, their work is regarded as some of the best in the industry. If they win, that’s just even more credit to them.

  21. NotSurprised
    17 Sep 10
    2:23 pm

  22. @Anonymous
    Unfortunately for BH, there is a difference between winning peer reviewed awards tenuously linked to results and winning fee paying clients. Hence the situation they find themselves in.
    I do very much feel for the staff at BH today though. There are a handful very good people there. Hopefully they’ll get picked up by other agencies, or move over to Naked.

  23. Anonymous
    17 Sep 10
    2:44 pm

  24. I think today isn’t about the quality of bh work over the last few years people! The merging of these two agencies creates a formidable strategic force in australian media, which we will all be eagerly watching

  25. Rascally
    17 Sep 10
    5:43 pm

  26. bh may not continue, but there will always be the quote book!

    xoxo peeps

  27. Beck's Stripper
    18 Sep 10
    1:19 am

  28. It was nice visiting you bh people. You seemed like a nice crew.

  29. kate
    18 Sep 10
    9:23 am

  30. The end of an era for an agency that showed the industry how its done; and a great bunch of people to boot!

  31. Someone who shares Naked's IP address
    18 Sep 10
    7:33 pm

  32. Hard to imagine an MFA awards without bellamyhayden. Thursday night should be interesting. A Naked bh entity will now be a very difficult team to pitch against….

  33. JJ
    18 Sep 10
    7:44 pm

  34. Pepsi were reviewing BH anyway – and they were about to leave them. Probably BH;s death rattle that news given they were the biggest client BH had.

    Pepsi are about to announce they will be reviewing Clemenger as well and have already appointed another major agency on a ‘special project’….

  35. ChrisK
    18 Sep 10
    9:49 pm

  36. JJ, you couldn’t be more wrong, both regarding Pepsi’s plans and that they are BH’s biggest client (not even close).

  37. Chris
    19 Sep 10
    2:41 am

  38. The quality of their work isnt even questionable, it led the way and set the benchmark for every other bog standard media and cretive agency to follow!

    Great work, great spirit and great people – they produced the best thinking and work to come out of an Oz agency in the last ten years for sure. BH and Naked brains are going to be a real force.

  39. Anonymous
    20 Sep 10
    7:55 am

  40. @JJ
    You really need to get better informed mate, Chris K is correct. A media review had just been done and bh were still the lead strategy agency on Pepsi. Less gossip, more facts thanks

  41. Someone
    20 Sep 10
    10:10 am

  42. Appeared on the pavement outside the Bellamy Hayden offices this morning. Communications Strategy FTW!

  43. Anonymous
    24 Sep 10
    12:44 pm

  44. @ Oh dear
    As late a reply as this is, I wonder how good it feels to be at the agency with not only the most MFA finalist entries this year (a feat in itself), but also the most awards won last night.
    Nonetheless, your bitchy comment about finalists being different from winners was stupid to begin with.