Paul Nagy joins Y&R Australia as chief creative officer

The creative industry’s game of musical chairs which kicked off in October last year with the resignation of Ben Coulson from Y&R Melbourne is almost complete, with Paul Nagy named national chief creative officer of Y&R Group as the group quietly drops the George Patterson name after 83 years, Mumbrella can reveal.

Ironically, Nagy joins the agency just months after, Ben Coulson, filled Nagy’s vacant role at Clemenger.

Paul Nagy

Nagy left Clemenger BBDO Sydney in late November after ten years, as part of a spillage of Australia’s top creatives into the market, with Darren Spiller leaving DDB Melbourne,  Bob Mackintosh departing Host after eleven years, Andy DiLallo’s departure from M&C Saatchi,  and Gavin McLeod from R/GA Sydney.

In his time with the agency, he worked on clients including Virgin Australia, Tourism Australia, TAB and Campbells/Arnotts.

His new appointment will see him report directly to Josh Moore, regional chief creative officer of Y&R Australia and New Zealand.

Nagy’s new appointment comes five days after the agency finally dropped its iconic George Patterson branding, consolidating under the Y&R brand.

George Patterson was for more than 50 years Australia’s biggest agency until it was bought by WPP in 2005 and merged with Young & Rubicam.

Phil McDonald: The rebrand is part of our goal to become the first truly Trans-Tasman creative network

In a post on the website, Phil McDonald, Y&R group CEO ANZ, said: “While in Australia the alignment will see the George Patterson name go from our external branding it will remain an important part of our agency’s DNA.

“The rebrand is part of our goal to become the first truly Trans-Tasman creative network and will better align us with our international Y&R counterparts. It also coincides with the launch of “Conspicuous Creativity”, a new way of creating and evaluating our ideas right across all our agencies in ANZ,” he said.

Commenting on the appointment, McDonald said Nagy’s appointment was part of an on-going investment in “world class creative talent.”

“He brings with him a level of creative astuteness that I know all our clients in Australia will value,” he said.

Moore added: “Paul is exactly the leader that Phil and I have been looking for the last 8 months. He shares our philosophy of creating brilliant work for our biggest clients that drives exceptional ROI.”

Nagy will work out of the Sydney office, alongside managing director Sasha Firth, who was promoted to the role in August last year.

He will work alongside executive creative directors Bart Pawlak and Dave Joubert.

Nagy said the thing that “struck” him most about  Y&R was their “excitement”.

“Like me, they don’t use a lot of big ad words, but are just genuinely passionate and excited about inspiring a culture that strives to create interesting, hard working brands for our clients,” he said.

“The agencies, both here and in NZ, have a history of doing some of the best work in the world, so I’ll be doing my best to continue that across Australia long into the future.”

Nagy joins other creatives who have re-surfaced, with Andy DiLallo is set to join TBWA Sydney, Gavin McLeod landing a job at AKQA San Francisco, and Darren Spiller joining Host.

The decision to drop the name of the Australian Agency’s founder in favour of the global brand marks the end of an era in the industry.

Patts nurtured some of the advertising industry’s biggest names including author Bryce Courtenay, former Australian Olympic Team media director Alex Hamill, businessman Geoff Cousins, former Ten CEO Hamish McLennan and NRL director Ian Elliott. The agency was also run for a period by Gruen Transfer panellist Russel Howcroft.

Patts was unassailable as Australia’s biggest advertising agency for more than five decades, riding the rivers of newspaper gold, the arrival of television and the influence of magazines through the 1970s and 1980s.

The agency’s Sydney CBD headquarters, George Patterson House, became the epicentre of Australian advertising. The building is now home to the Hemmes Group bar Establishment, where the agency’s 75th birthday celebrations were held.

The agency moved through a series of ownership structures including a period as George Patterson Bates, part of the Cordiant Group, before being caught up in the private equity movement when Pacific Equity Partners took control of the business.

WPP then moved in to take control of the business from PEP – Patts having been eclipsed as Australia’s biggest agency by Clemenger BBDO.

The exit from advertising ended in tears for PEP, which was sued for $10m in damages by WPP which alleged two seniors executives, MD Anthony Heraghty and executive creative director James McGrath had signed a financial agreement with PEP not to leave the agency for at least a year after the sale.

Details of a settlement were not disclosed but the pair issued an unreserved formal apology to then CEO Hamish McLennan over deal.


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