HotHouse Interactive closes doors after 20 years in business as STW’s Catalyst also closes

Hothouse InteractiveDigital agency HotHouse Interactive has closed its doors after just over 20 years in business after going into liquidation yesterday.

Mumbrella understand more than 40 HotHouse Interactive staff have been laid off after parent company Big River made the decision to send the company into liquidation.

While it has been speculated the collapse of the agency was linked to the loss of major client Toyota, a Toyota spokesperson told Mumbrella the agency were still under contract with them.

The news comes as STW Communications confirmed the closure of full-service agency Catalyst International following the retirement of industry veteran and founder John Skinner.

A spokesperson for Toyota said the car giant had not been told of the closure and had been working with the agency “until yesterday” adding: “HotHouse Interactive is still under contract with Toyota Australia and up until yesterday we have been working with them and discussing upcoming projects.

“Whilst the news is regrettable, it is not expected to impact on Toyota’s business.  Toyota hosts its websites and has contingency plans in place to enable on-going maintenance of its sites.”

Mumbrella understands the decision to close the agency was made following the deferral of a number of big projects for Toyota, which coincided with a drop in the agency’s revenues.

It is unclear what will happen to HotHouse clients.

The agency was founded by Simon Van Wyk in March 1994, who departed the company in 1999 to set up e-commerce provider HighBall. In 2000, HighBall and HotHouse Interactive merged to form Big River Corporation with Van Wyk returning to HotHouse. Van Wyk has most recently been strategy and innovation director for the agency.

Both Van Wyk and HotHouse Interactive director Dion Weston declined to comment, while HotHouse CEO Rob Olver had not returned requests for comment at the time of publication.

HotHouse has worked on a number of brands in its 20 year history including Microsoft, Telstra, Ninemsn, Channel Seven and Coca-Cola.

Separately STW confirmed the closure of Catalyst, with a spokesperson telling Mumbrella: “After 50 years in the marketing communications  industry John Skinner, founder and executive chairman of Catalyst retired from his fulltime position in late 2014.

“As a result, Catalyst has been merged with other specialist STW Group’s businesses, ensuring a wider, deeper set of capabilities are available to its major clients for the future.  Catalyst staff who wished to remain in the industry, also transferred to other STW businesses.”

Miranda Ward


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