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TBWA International continues to quickly add more building blocks to its international network, this time setting up shop in Sydney.

The new agency, Whybin Lawrence TBWA, is a sister shop to Melbourne-based Whybin TBWA, in which TBWA took an equity position in 1995.

TBWA has spent an estimated $70 million to $80 million over the past 12 months to acquire agencies in Latin America, Asia and Europe.


TBWA and its predecessors have not always had the best of luck Down Under.

In 1992, three years before its merger with TBWA, Chiat/Day was forced to pull out of Australia after its Chiat/Day/Mojo venture suffered the defection of key accounts.

Chiat/Day/Mojo was sold to FCB International for substantially less than the $52 million that Chiat/Day paid for Mojo MDA Group in 1989.

TBWA's Sydney shop has already been at the center of controversy. Agency CEO-Creative Director Neil Lawrence resigned as national creative director for Young & Rubicam Sydney last year to team up with TBWA, sparking a well-publicized court battle.

Under a court ruling announced early this month, Mr. Lawrence was allowed to open Whybin Lawrence TBWA but ordered not to divulge confidential information about Y&R business or to solicit existing Y&R staff or clients until after July 10.

Still, the new Sydney shop is opening with billings of approximately $22 million, including an $18 million account for Foxtel, Australia's major cable brand. Foxtel had been a Y&R account.


Whybin Lawrence TBWA also has picked up the $4 million Nissan dealer account for Sydney, complementing the Nissan account held by Whybin TBWA in Melbourne, in a competitive review against incumbent Nissan agency George Patterson Bates, Melbourne.

To add to Y&R Sydney's woes, five key Y&R employees have left the agency to work with Mr. Lawrence. The court order doesn't affect their employment, since those employees weren't solicited to leave.

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