The local outpost of McCann Erickson has been one of Australia's leading creative agencies since first opening its doors in the country in 1959. There are advertising agencies in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, as well as satellite units including McCann Healthcare and PR agency The Red Republic. Performance at the main McCann agency had grown a little stale by 2010. A year later, it merged with independent shop Smart, and that agency's founder Ben Lilley was appointed CEO for the whole McCann group in Australia & New Zealand. The agency got a huge boost soon afterwards from the enormous popular success of its Dumb Ways To Die viral, which went on to win an unprecedented five Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival in 2013, as well as scores of other accolades. As a result, McCann Melbourne ended up as one of the world's two most awarded agencies of the year. Creative chief John Mescall - also inherited from Smart - was rewarded with a transfer to New York in a global role as chairman of the network's creative council. The agency's profile has been a little more low-key since then. The Dumb Ways concept was repeated a few times afterwards, but failed to gain the same acclaim; nor did any other local campaign achieve similar global fame. CEO Lilley announced his resignation at the beginning of 2018 to take a break from the industry. Adding to the general uncertainty was the loss of several members of the creative department, poached by Deloitte's fast-expanding marketing services unit. Lilley's successor was eventually named as Nicole Taylor, poached from DDB Sydney; however she moved on after just one year and was not directly replaced. In 2020, in a surprise development, Ben Lilley returned from early retirement with a deal to buy out McCann's local operations, and run them as an independently owned affiliate. He expanded the business soon afterwards with the acquisition of creative shop Red Engine SCC, which is being merged into PR unit The Red Republic. JSA, based in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, was acquired later the same year. These now operate under the umbrella of holding company The Hero Corporation. Pat Baron is CCO Australia, with Ben Coulson as CCO McCann Sydney. The agency continues to operate as part of the wider McCann Worldgroup. Alex Lubar is regional president of McCann Asia Pacific. See also the Adbrands profile of the main McCann Worldgroup network.
Capsule checked 20th June 2019
Which clients does McCann Australia handle? Find out more from the Adbrands Account Assignments database
Who are the competitors of McCann Australia? see Australia's Leading Advertising Agencies
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Feb 2020: In a surprise development, former McCann Australia CEO Ben Lilley has returned to the industry after a two year break, and negotiated a deal to acquire the agency outright from Interpublic. Under the new arrangement, the business will continue to operate as the local affiliated outpost of the wider McCann network, but under independent ownership. The deal comprises the four McCann offices in Australia as well as PR unit Red Republic. The affilaite partnership is not entirely unusual: Interpublic has similar arrangements in several countries, including in Russia for the local offices of McCann, FCB and MulleonLowe.
Adbrands Social Media 26th Jun 2019: "The School Pickup". Every mother (and more than a few fathers) know that kids can be a little - how can we put it? - fractious by the time they finish school at the end of a long day. It is a truth universally acknowledged all over the globe. Enter Coca-Cola, which is seizing on that fact for the launch of its first enhanced milk drink in Australia this month, under the Nutriboost brand. Here's the entertaining ad from McCann Sydney. It's also the first decent spot we've seen so far this week in the traditional post-Cannes lull. Come on guys, it's time to get back to work.
Adbrands Social Media 24th Sep 2018: It's rare these days to find a Coca-Cola ad that's worth a second look - how times have changed from a decade or so ago! - but here's an exception to that rule. It's no classic, mind, but this spot from McCann Sydney, made specifically for the Australian market soars above the hackneyed hard-sell cookie-cutter spots flooding the wider international market. I mean, really: "Look, here's the thing about Diet Coke. It's delicious. It makes me feel good." Who signed off on that script? Instead, this ad places the ubiquitous cola firmly in a local cultural context, and does so with charm and some decent production values. Although the 1975 vignette is a bit off: those swaying hippies bear a close resemblance to extras from The Walking Dead.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Mar 2016: McCann Australia took further steps to move media planning and buying back inhouse and away from traditional partner UM or third party agencies. The agency has recruited several executives from rivals, including a head of media, to ramp up its inhouse offering. CEO Ben Lilley told local trade site Mumbrella, "The truth is our media offering is only there because, in the first instance we had a number of clients who started talking to us about wanting to better integrate their strategic and creative work we were doing with their media and channel planning needs. They weren't satisfied with what they were getting with their existing media partners and they wanted to see whether we could improve on that." He was also critical of the current state of the local media industry. "I hope it's going to improve the offering across the industry as far as waking up a few media agencies, in particular, as to how they can better step up or improve or evolve their own agency's models because there is nothing harder for us, or other creative agencies, than working with shoddy media partners. There are some great media agencies out there, but there are some that are really struggling."
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th June 2014: Midway at the Cannes Lions Festival, and McCann Melbourne, creators of last year's all-conquering "Dumb Ways To Die", have snapped up the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix with another rail-themed campaign, this time for V/Line Trains. The campaign encouraged rural families to send "guilt trip" return home train tickets to sons and daughters who had fled the sticks for the big city.
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