John Sintras returns to head up digital consultancy, Yango Group

Former agency bigwig, and short-lived chief audience and content officer at SBS, John Sintras, is back in the fold, becoming CEO at independent digital consultancy Yango Group.

Speaking to Mumbrella during his first day yesterday, Sintras said he’d spent a lot of his career at big organisations, managing bureaucracies, and being hamstrung by legacy issues and processes. The new role, he said, would enable him to be nimble for clients, and achieve better outcomes.

Sintras wants to change the status quo

“Clearly I’ve spent so much of my time in big roles, managing bureaucracies, managing the expectations of people all over the world, and it’s very time consuming,” he told Mumbrella.

“And clearly the big holding companies are very constrained by profit margins, and there are rules and barriers all over the place. I wanted an environment where there weren’t the same barriers,” he added.

Working at a small, independent consultancy, he said, would enable him to say ‘no’ to the wrong sorts of business, and charge a fair price for what he’d provide for clients.

“What I really wanted to do was focus on clients’ work and helping people who are struggling with a world gone mad, help them untangle stuff and make a difference,” he said.

“I didn’t want to end up in a bureaucratic environment, with legacy thinking and legacy structures.”

On choosing this particular role, he said it was “less about the size or the scale, and more about the environment I could genuinely make a difference in”. Yango, he claims, may be small in size, but isn’t small in ambition.

So who then, are its competitors?

Sintras says, it could be the consultancies or the holding groups. The needs of the marketplace, he says, are just not being met.

“Lots of people are saying they end up with very very big reports and studies and recommendations [from consultancies] that cost a lot of money that end up in a draw, and people struggle to take that to market and activating it in a meaningful way,” he said.

Too much consulting and business advice, he said, is about cutting costs out of a business – “anyone can do that” – when it should be focused on how to grow the top line, and thinking about where that growth could come from.

“The biggest need I saw in the marketplace – everybody I talk to client side and media agency side and creative agency side and even media owner side, is everyone is struggling with martech… how do I transition legacy systems?

“Everyone has the same sorts of problems. Even very sophisticated clients are still struggling.”

He said the struggle in adland is hitting everyone – big or small – and the levels of anxiety, combined with our reduction to what he calls “survival mode”, saddens him.

“The emotions that I would most associate [with the industry at the moment] are fear and anxiety,” he said.

“And where does that come from? CMOs are like ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what I don’t know.’ The pressure is relentless. Things keep changing. The martech stack is crazy. The pressure from the top and below is crazy. CMO tenure is so low. So there’s that sort of fear,” he explained.

In agency land, he said it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, the anxiety stems from: “Will I keep my job?”

“Lots of people feel trapped… That really saddens me. I love this industry. I love agencies… And to see it sort of reduced to that, survival state, is really quite distressing, and we have to sort of get out of that. The only way to get out of that is to move upstream and prove your value to clients and recruit good talent.”

So how will Yango Group help clients get out of the rut? Sintras says by changing the status quo.

Everybody’s talking transformation, everybody’s talking innovation. Very few people are living it, walking it, delivering it.” 

In a press release, Sintras added: ““We can help solve business and marketing problems, identify new growth opportunities, and design technology, brand, customer and media solutions. Central to our work is simplifying the world of data and martech for clients while leveraging deep human understanding to meaningfully connect with customers, staff and stakeholders.”

The company launched as a start-up in 2013 and has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland with around 40 staff. Its proprietary AI technology platform Rubii allows for the automation of digital media planning, buying, tracking and optimisation of campaigns across all digital channels and programmatic media-buying platforms in real time.

Yango co-founder Ben Holmes added: “We’ve been on a fantastic growth trajectory to date and now is the time to hit the turbo button. John brings unmatched experience and, more importantly, vision and extraordinary thinking around disruption and innovation to the business and to our clients.”


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