Howcroft takes national GPY&R role as Porter departs

GPY&R Sydney boss Julie Porter is to quit less than a year after being brought in by Y&R Brands CEO Nigel Marsh to help turn the struggling outfit around. Her return to consultancy – which both she and Marsh insist is an amicable departure – will see Russel Howcroft, MD of GPY&R Melbourne and a Gruen Transfer panellist – become national CEO.  

russelhowcrofteditMarsh told Mumbrella: “Julie achieved a fantastic amount in a far shorter period than any nof us expected and she is a good friend.

“Asking her to do this job was like asking a mate to run the Cronulla Sharks. She did a great job in very difficult circumstances.”

Asked whether there would be a further announcement regarding the top tier at GPY&R Sydney, he said: “Watch this space in the coming weeks.”

Marsh – who previously headed up Leo Burnett – was brought in just under a year ago to turn around WPP’s struggling Y&R Brands portfolio. The journey has been a tough one, with around 40 redundancies at the Sydney office of GPY&R in response to getting less work from Telstra. Crucially for the agency though, Telstra remains a client.

As a further distraction, there is still an ongoing legal case involving the sale of George Patterson to Y&R Brands four years ago.

Howcroft – a former chairman of the Advertising Federation of Australia – has seen his profile grow during his two-series stint on The Gruen Transfer. Mumbrella understands that his new role would not prevent him from appearing for a third series if invited.

Howcroft said: “It’s the dream job for me, running the oldest and most successful Australian agency brand.”

Porter said: “The past year has been amazingly challenging, but I believe GPY&R Sydney now has a new sense of purpose, momentum and direction that it can easily build on.” She also hinted that there was some work in the pipeline that could change perceptions about the Sydney office’s output. She said: “There is some outstanding creative currently in production.”

However, the agency’s image still has a long way to go. Peter McDonald, boss of pitch consultancy The Agency Register told today’s Australian:

“I think it has been confused, on the back foot and suffering from a lack of leadership.”


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