WPP AUNZ (ex STW Group) (Australia)

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STW Group was Australia's largest homegrown marketing services group. It reclaimed that position at the end of 2011 after several years in which it was eclipsed by faster-growing challenger Photon (now Enero). Although independently owned, STW was closely associated with WPP, running the local outposts in Australia and New Zealand of three of the British marketing giant's biggest brands, J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather and Mindshare. However it also controlled a large collection of around 80 local agencies including media buyer Ikon and creative shop The Brand Agency. The STW acronym stood for Singleton Tate WPP, after group founder and local advertising legend John "Singo" Singleton, his business partner Russell Tate and WPP. Despite its size the group suffered an alarming slump in performance in 2014. That eventually led to a takeover by WPP at the end of 2015 to create what is now WPP AUNZ, combining STW's existing operations with all WPP's other agencies in that region.

Who are the competitors of STW Group? See ranking of Australia's Leading Advertising Agencies

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STW Group website


J Walter Thompson  The White Agency
Singleton O&M The Brand Agency
Ikon Communications Tongue
Cornwell Bohemia
Etcom Parker & Partners
Howorth Badjar Ogilvy

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Mar 2018: WPP Australia & New Zealand, which is publicly quoted down under as a separate entity, reported financial results for 2017. Net sales were up 0.6% on a reported basis to A$870m, as strong growth in the main advertising and media agencies offset weakness in research, PR and specialist communications. Net profit rose 3% to A$84m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Mar 2017: WPP's main results aren't expected until the end of this week, but the group's newly consolidated subsidiary in Australia & New Zealand has published its full-year figures, showing satisfactory performance in 2016. This was despite well-publicised problems in the first half of last year at the local outpost of Mediacom, and a financial hangover from the old STW Group, of which WPP took majority control at the end of 2015. Net sales at WPP AUNZ rose 1% on a comparable basis to A$865m (or around US$644m). Advertising & media investment accounted for just over half that total, and reported sales growth over 2%. According to CEO Mike Connaghan, "Ogilvy had a very strong year both in Australia and New Zealand... [and] we see plenty of upside in the other global ad agency brands.... Some of the issues confronting GroupM and Mediacom in particular are well documented but it was very pleasing to see Mediacom as one of the agencies retaining and winning significant client mandates in Q4." The strongest growth, though, came from the local PR division, with sales up over 4% and operating profit up 45%.

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: In a deal that has been looking increasingly inevitable all year, WPP took control of Australian marketing roll-up STW Communications, the independent that, for historical reasons, has controlled the local operations of several of the UK group's key brands, including Ogilvy & Mather, J Walter Thompson, Mindshare and Maxus. Publicly quoted STW also owns a number of other marketing services agencies in Australia and new Zealand, but performance has been challenging for the past couple of years, partly as the result of an ill-conceived expansion into Asia. Rumours of a potential buyout have been circling all year, prompted by the dramatic decline in STW's share price. Under the new arrangement, WPP will merge its wholly owned local operations in Australia, including Grey, GPY&R and other brands into STW in return for a 61% shareholding in the enlarged group (up from under 24%). The remaining shares will continue to be publicly owned, and STW CEO Mike Connaghan will lead the merged company. STW's existing operations and those of WPP in Australasia are about the same size in annual sales. Pro-forma sales for the combined business are approx A$850m this year (or US$620m).

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th May 2015: Australia's biggest marketing group STW, which controls the local outposts of Ogilvy, JWT and Mindshare for WPP, has merged two of its weaker units following a series of account losses. Media agency Ikon was one of the group's star performers in the late 2000s, but has suffered multiple client defections over the past couple of years. So has creative agency Moon Communications. It biggest client, Westfield Shopping Centres, recently transferred to a separate dedicated agency within STW. As a result Ikon and Moon are merging to form a new full-service agency offering both creative and media. The business will retain the Ikon name.

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th May 2015: We Brits get most of the bad press for alcohol consumption, but no one does drunken brawls better than Australian billionaires. John "Singo" Singleton is a local advertising legend, the septuagenarian founder of what is now local marketing giant STW Group. This week he made the front pages after attempting to stab his best friend Jack Cowin, a director of Fairfax Media and owner of Burger King franchisee Hungry Jack, with a broken wine glass following a marathon drinking session. Yes, really. Reportedly the fight began when Cowin ribbed Singo for drinking rosé wine instead of beer. Only in Australia... Singleton was cautioned by police and fined A$550. Last year, another Ozzie billionaire, James Packer, was involved in a public punch-up with his own best friend, TV chief David Gyngell, over supermodel Miranda Kerr.

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