FCB shuts its doors in Australia after decade of decline

FCB is to close its doors after more than 20 years in Australia, with the creative agency’s globally-aligned clients and remaining staff transferring to AJF Partnership from August 4.


FCB, or DraftFCB as it was briefly known,went through a series of relaunches after losing key clients and struggling to keep key staff from the early 2000s onwards.

In 2012 the Melbourne office of the agency closed down following the loss of key client Honda, with the agency saying at the time it would focus on growing its Sydney operation.

FCB is one of the world’s oldest agencies, with its beginnings in Chicago in 1873. It was later purchased in 1912 by Albert Lasker, who became known as the “father of modern advertising”. In 1942, Lasker sold the agency to its three top managers Emerson H. Foote in New York, Fairfax Cone in Chicago and Don Belding in California who renamed it Foote, Cone and Belding.

The agency had its roots in Australia in its 1993 purchase of Magnus Nankervis & Curl, a former B&T agency of the year. It also bought Mojo Pacific in 1992, which made it one of the largest local groups in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2006, FCB merged with direct marketing agency Draft Direct Worldwide to become DraftFCB globally however the Draft was dropped from the name in March this year.

AJF will become the global FCB network’s local affiliate. Five FCB staff members will move across to the AJF Sydney team, with the staff working on the four global brands, including Beirsdorf (Nivea, Nivea Men, Nivea Sun, Elastoplast), Lindt & Sprungli (Lindt, Lindor, Excellence), Mondelez International (Oreo) and Valspar (Wattle and Valspar) AJF will acquire as a result of the deal.

Digby Richards, managing director at AJF Partnership Sydney, told Mumbrella: “It’s five senior people and they’re all consistent with those clients, which makes the transition seamless. We’re wrapping support around them.

“The key when you do these things is continuity and seamless transitions, that’s what clients are looking for. And you’re dealing with people’s lives so you try and make it seamless for them too.”

Richards added that in time AJF staff would also work on the FCB clients.

“They do this around the world. They have affiliate agencies in a variety of countries, it’s part of their network strategy. It’s nothing too inconsistent with that,” he said of the move.

In a statement Bryan Crawford, chairman of FCB New Zealand and Australia, said: “AJF Partnership is an excellent agency for an affiliation in Australia. The combination of AJF’s creative effectiveness and extensive resources together with the highly-valued existing team at FCB Sydney provides our multi-national clients with additional services to help grow their businesses”.

There is no other arrangement in place with FCB apart from the commercial servicing of the client base as an affiliate.

The announcement comes on the back of a number of failures for global holding company Interpublic in Australia.

Interpublic’s McCann was forced to buy Smart in 2011 and to instal the independent agency’s management to get the failing agency back on track locally. And Interpublic’s Lowe saw a similar reverse takeover by 303.

Miranda Ward


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.