Melbourne execs to also manage Grey Sydney

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SYDNEY--Management upheaval at Grey Advertising, Sydney, has led to the resignation of the agency's top two executives: Managing Director Barry Anderson and Creative Director Jon Platt.

Part of a bold move designed to dramatically improve the multinational advertising giant's performance in Sydney, Grey Communications Group Chief Executive Officer Ian Herdman confirmed that Mr. Anderson and Mr. Platt would leave the agency. Industry observers say Grey Sydney has never fully recovered from its 1994 loss of the $12 million Sanitarium business. However, the agency still handles several blue chip clients, including SmithKline Beecham, Zurich Insurance and Procter & Gamble Co.

Mr. Herdman says Paul Gardner, currently managing director of Grey Melbourne, will be promoted to national managing director of Grey Advertising and will spend a substantial amount of time in Sydney developing new business for the agency.

Robert Dow, currently the executive creative director of Grey Melbourne, will assume the title of national creative director and will also spend more time in Sydney.

Mr. Anderson, who has been with Grey for the past four years, is leaving his post to become the managing partner of a new marketing consultancy in which Grey plans to become majority shareholder. The consultancy will not be a mainstream advertising agency but will offer marketing advice on a project basis.

Mr. Platt, an Englishman who has worked in Sydney for the past decade, has resigned from Grey to become creative director of J. Walter Thompson's Manchester office. "I think it's a better job ... that's putting it a bit starkly. It's an opportunity to run a bigger agency," Mr. Platt says. The timing of his and Mr. Anderson's departure is purely coincidental, Mr. Platt says.

"When I started at Grey, they were in a rather seedy office in Crows Nest with 22 rather demoralized people in there. Today there is something like 120 people - the growth has been phenomenal,'' Mr. Platt says.

Mr. Herdman agrees the agency has made progress. "I don't think Grey has ever got it right in Sydney. In the last few years, we've made great gains in improving Sydney; but we want to be a first division player. We want to be a first class agency in Australia's leading city and we need to accelerate our rate of progress ... we needed to take some bold moves," Mr. Herdman says.

"We want to run a seamless business in two cities. There are obvious benefits of putting the best people in to deal with the most difficult tasks. We can't afford to allow Sydney and Melbourne historical issues to prevent us from operating in the most appropriate way."

Mr. Herdman says Grey is not the only ad agency in Australia affected by the SydneyMelbourne divide. "It is part of Australian advertising history that it has been difficult to do well in both cities in a sustained way. There are plenty of examples among the top 10 agencies which prove that point. We do some things well and many of them are in Melbourne ... we're going to take those skills and apply them to Sydney."

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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