JWT Sydney: Mumbrella Creative Agency Review – Strong planning culture, needs repositioning under new boss

MCAR coverThe newly published Mumbrella Creative Agency Review examines Australia’s top 30 ad agencies. Today Robin Hicks examines how JWT Sydney has fared over the last 12 months.

Since the appointment of John Gutteridge as national CEO of JWT Australasia in July 2010, replacing Noel Magnus, the Sydney office has acquired a more settled look about it. The revolving door that has characterised the agency in recent years has stopped spinning, leaving the agency to knuckle down to some decent work for internationally aligned clients such as Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson and Nestle.

Angus Hennah and Mark Harricks, who was brought in from DDB Sydney in January, run a well drilled creative department as joint ECDs. And there has been the occasional flash of finesse where the agency’s conservative client base has allowed it, such as a video to support Smirnoff’s sponsorship of Manchester United that featured Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs. But just as client Nestle chose a blonde boy to be the next Milky Bar kid, JWT Sydney appears to lack the element of surprise.

Our survey portrays JWT Sydney as an agency that makes money, doesn’t lose clients and has a strong planning department. But in terms of creativity, talent and its impact on the industry, it finds itself well down the pecking order. As one panellist observes: “The unfortunate thing about JWT is that no-one really knows what they’re up to. For a sizeable agency with an enviable client list, they’re almost anonymous.”

The Gutteridge factor will be key in the coming months. A panellist notes: “John is true blue JWT. He has run the Melbourne and New Zealand offices, so knows the culture as well as anyone. He’s a well respected CEO who is more than equipped to breathe some life into the agency. 2012 could be the year he puts JWT on the map.”

Whatever Gutteridge does next, a priority will be defining JWT’s positioning. As another panellist wonders: “What is JWT’s place in the world? It appears to be an agency driven by numbers and spread sheets, not creative integrity. A relaunch of the agency can’t come soon enough.”

To read more about JWT 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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