GPY&R Sydney: Mumbrella Creative Agency Review – Is the agency that ‘understands Australians’ stuck in a rut?

The newly published Mumbrella Creative Agency Review examines Australia’s top 30 ad agencies. Today Robin Hicks examines how GPY&R Sydney has fared over the last 12 months.

Australia’s oldest advertising agency is looking a little out of breath. Though plans to rejuvenate GPY&R Sydney are now well under way under MD Phil McDonald and national CEO Russell Howcroft, the perception in the market is that Patts is a once magnificent agency that has lost its way, perhaps never to return to the form of two decades ago.

While its namesake in Melbourne has made bold strides to reinvent itself, GPY&R Sydney’s progress has been less sure-footed. The agency which now lives by the “ruthlessly relevant” mantra finds itself 17 places below its sibling in our survey – the biggest gap between the offices of any agency brand. Critics point to one of its key successes being a long copy press ad for Wagon Wheels that won a silver at Cannes as evidence that little has changed.

Patts Sydney’s best rank, for planning, should please chief strategy officer Jon Steel. And scores for account management and talent are respectable. But the agency performs poorly for effectiveness, client stability, commercial success and impact on the industry, which our panel rates as its weakest trait, slotting it one place above bottom-ranked Y&R stable mate The Campaign Palace Sydney.

Views on Patts are strong among our panel.

“One of the most powerful agencies in Australian history is now a case study in getting it wrong. It will be interesting to see how the success of the Melbourne office and Russell Howcroft’s leadership may impact on the agency in the future.”

Others are more hopeful.

“The pieces are there, and the opportunities are flowing in. They’ve defined a clear positioning with teeth, and there is a place for an agency that really understands Australians. But whether this reinvented agency is capable of delivering a compelling and competitive offering, I’m not sure. They’re not quite there yet – a pause button is on.”

Another says: “Patts may or may not have addressed its dramatic decline over the preceding decade. But the agency needs to deliver major new business and some good work desperately. It’s a mere shadow of its dominant heritage, but with the potential to deliver better creative than the old Patts ever did.”

To read more about GPY&R Sydney, including full details on how it was scored by both our expert panel and Mumbrella’s own readers, to view examples of the agency’s work and read its own assessment of its performance, buy a copy of the Mumbrella Creative Agency Review priced at $75. The book features an assessment of the country’s top 30 ad agencies. To buy the book, click here.


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