Founded in Melbourne, Australia, by Gordon Trembath and Lionel Hunt, 1972; opened Sydney branch, 1982; Cordiant Group's George Patterson Bates buys 25% interest in the Melbourne office, 1984; George Patterson Bates buys 25% interest in the Sydney office, 1985; George Patterson Bates completes buyout of Campaign Palace, 1992; WPP Group takes over George Patterson Parent Cordiant Communications Group, 2003.
Campaign Palace, which has been responsible for much of the advertising that has become part of Australia's popular culture, was opened in Melbourne in 1972 by art director Gordon Trembath and copywriter Lionel Hunt. At first, the agency worked both for other ad agencies and directly for its own clients.
By 1976, the number of direct clients had grown significantly, and the founders decided to become a fully accredited advertising agency.
Mr. Trembath was known within the industry as a "details man," designing everything down to the swizzle sticks for client Dunk Island, a Great Barrier Reef resort. Other major clients included packaged-goods marketer Pacific Dunlop and Qantas, for which Campaign created the successful "Blue denim" brochure to target the youth market.
Throughout the 1980s, the agency remained centered in Melbourne after several false starts at setting up a Sydney office. Campaign Palace finally opened in Sydney in 1983, with Sanyo as its anchor account.
In the mid-1980s, Campaign Palace attracted clients ranging from zoos to Apple Computer, which the agency launched in Australia in 1984. However, the agency lacked a major consumer goods account and suffered a period of financial instability as it attempted to grow. Rival shop George Patterson Advertising bought a 25% stake in Campaign Palace's Melbourne office in 1984 and a 25% stake in the Sydney operation the following year.
George Patterson progressively increased its ownership in Campaign Palace until 1987 when it owned 100% of the Melbourne operation; by 1992, it had acquired the outstanding shares of the Sydney shop as well. In 1995, the it opened a separate media specialist agency, the Media Palace.
Campaign Palace has long had a tradition of rocking the boat in the ad industry. In 1999, its chief executive, Reg Bryson, published a giant foldout ad in Australia's major daily newspapers that challenged the country's business leaders:
Thinking of advertising? Don't waste your money. . . . The advertising industry has been low on many of the vital signs over the past decade [and] too many of today's advertisers seem content to simply follow the crowd. Too many businesses are simply going from A to B following the well-trodden conventional path.
In 2001, Campaign Palace, part of the Cordiant Communications Group, had gross income of $6.8 million, down 27.3% over the year earlier, on billings of $60 million.
Campaign Palace parent George Patterson is now a subsidiary of WPP Group following the August 2003 purchase of Cordiant by WPP.