The outgoing boss of creative agency R/GA has claimed that when he joined the agency last year, its new Sydney operation was already “floundering” and that “the structure was all over the place”.
Jon Holloway says he joined R/GA in Australia when it was “floundering”
The comments from Jon Holloway come in his recently updated LinkedIn profile, as he officially left the employment of the agency last week.
Owned by Interpublic, R/GA – seen as one of the world’s great agency brands – launched in Australia in 2013. Its client list includes ANZ Banking Group, Qantas, Telstra, Red Bull and Twitter. The agency’s global output is led by Australian, Nick Law, who is the network’s global chief creative officer.
Initially launched by managing director Ameer Youssef before he returned to New York, R/GA Australia was then run by Andy Wright, who left to co-found agency For The People.
Holloway took the helm of R/GA after short stints in management roles at agencies TCO and The Works. It emerged in August that he would be leaving R/GA just 15 months into his role.
Yesterday Holloway penned a blog post declaring that the traditional advertising agency model faces destruction – “killed by complacency, a lack of trust and an inability to be transparent”. He wrote:
“They could have taken on the gap in digital disruption and new opportunities, but they couldn’t. Instead they played at it, they took ad thinking to business problems and fucked it all up. Some are still trying, they won’t succeed.”
And Holloway predicted: “the inevitable unravelling of media agencies because of their inability to be truthful and transparent”.
In the post, Holloway said he has now left the advertising world.
In his newly updated profile on LinkedIn, Holloway claims his brief was: “Simple job, start again and bring the R/GA DNA to Australia and make it rock.”
He did not explain in the post why he was leaving the role so soon.
Holloway has been replaced with former R/GA executive Rebecca Bezzina. Recent days have also seen the departure of executive creative director Gavin McLeod for a job in the USA, and of the award-winning creative team of Will Winter-Irving and Pat Anderson, who joined With Collective.
After his exit from the advertising world, Holloway now describes himself as an “accelerator of ideas, founder, digital product disruptor”.
Update: In an additional post on LinkedIn, Holloway has argued that the above article is “hyperbole”. He writes:
“In hindsight, I used the wrong wording. When talking about when I JOINED R/GA, I wrote that it was ‘floundering’ and that the ‘structure was all over the place’. Definitely the wrong way to say it, but we all make mistakes. As with all businesses, when a new MD joins, there is a reason, it’s very rarely all sparkles. However I get that it wasn’t particularly smart and I have apologised to the bosses at R/GA and the team personally.
“I, I, I, I, everything started with I. When I was writing articles about the death of this and that, it was because I thought I knew better, I thought I had the answers. That was 5 years ago, my ego was out of control.
“It’s taken 5 years to change myself, to be coached, to let others in, to listen. I will always keep challenging conventional wisdom, it’s in my blood, but now it isn’t my ego talking. I truly want to affect change.”