The Campaign Palace Sydney: Mumbrella Creative Agency Review – Cycle needs to change for flailing ‘industry icon’

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

With Panasonic the only really visible client left, and the memories of the halcyon days of the ‘80s and ‘90s growing ever fainter, it is a sad sight to the see The Campaign Palace Sydney at the bottom of our survey with the lowest score overall.

The Palace was by some distance the poorest rated agency by our panel, with its highest rank being for creativity. They were not kind in their appraisal, one calling The Palace “an agency racing headlong into oblivion,” adding, “I can only imagine it made the top 30 on past reputation.”

Another laments: “Management instability is destroying what was once an iconic brand.”

The past year has been one of considerable upheaval and mixed fortune. Westpac puts its $32m account, The Palace’s biggest, elsewhere. So did Domino’s.

Chairman and ECD Paul Fishlock left after seven years at the agency, and is now in the process of sueing the company. He was replaced by Reed Collins from Leo Burnett Chicago.

Mark Mackay came in as executive chairman. Jacques Burger, the CEO, left. Keith Newton joined as national planning director. Michele Teague came in as MD of the Sydney office, then was shown the door eight months later. Mackay took her place as CEO of the Sydney office. Megan Hales, a highly regarded digital strategist, also came and went.

Then in August, a bombshell: Bonds put its account up for review.

There have been positives. Palace put in a decent showing at the Effies in 2011 and 2010. And the agency won a bronze film lion at Cannes this year for ‘No expert’ for the Panasonic G2 digital camera. But our survey suggests that the negative has very much outweighed the positive.

The Campaign Palace Sydney rock bottoms in our survey for account management, commercial success and client stability. No real credit is awarded in any category, with creativity and planning its highest scores. A harsh assessment, perhaps, tainted by memories of former glories.

One panellist suggests the agency needs to stop trading on past glories if its fortunes are to change, and its senior staff are to stop jumping ship. Indeed, the words of Y&R’s global CEO David “Mr Fix It” Sable, who spoke to Mumbrella at Cannes in July 2011, seem hopeful. He said: “It’s a cyclical business. I think they hit a rough patch. We’re focused on it. Keep your eyes on it over the next year. That cycle’s going to change.”

To read more about The Campaign Palace Sydney 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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