The Australian outpost of what is now VMLY&R has a prestigious heritage, even if the business has also undergone a series of structural upheavals in recent years. Known until 2017 as George Patterson Y&R (or GPY&R), it was formed in 2005 from the acquisition by WPP of The Communications Group (TCG), previously one of Australia's two largest marketing communications groups. TCG's main advertising business, known locally as "Patts", was merged with the local arm of Y&R to form GPY&R. Until then, the George Patterson agency had been part of the Bates Worldwide network. Once regarded as indisputably Australia's finest agency, it suffered something of a downturn following its acquisition by WPP. Performance stabilised more recently, and it remains one of Australasia's biggest and best agencies, with three offices in Australia and two in New Zealand. The New Zealand agency is especially good at punching above its weight: its 2016 "McWhopper" campaign for Burger King was one of the world's most awarded, collecting multiple prizes including two Cannes Lions Grand Prix. In 2018, WPP announced plans to merge the global Y&R network with its faster-growing VML business to form VMLY&R. Local Y&R chief Peter Bosilkovski and VML Australia leader Aden Hepburn were named as co-CEOs of the merged business; but both abruptly quit the agency in 2019 within a few weeks of one another. Jon Bird relocated from VMLY&R in New York to become CEO later that year, but he moved up two years later to executive chairman. Tom Tearle was pochaed from Dentsu's Isobar to take over as CEO of VMLY&R ANZ. Paul Nagy is CCO. VMLY&R AUNZ retains a small collection of satellite units including promotional marketer IdeaWorks. In 2021, it absorbed the local office of activation network Geometry as part of a global realignment. The agency forms part of WPP's locally quoted WPP AUNZ subsidiary.
Capsule checked 23rd December 2020
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Historical profile information for George Patterson
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Sep 2017: Ads of the Week "Geoff: The Film". There's a strong touch of Pixar in this charming tale of one man's obsessive quest for the perfect Heinz Beanz serving, from Y&R Australia. It's an unusually lavish piece of work from Kraft Heinz, a company that tends to prefer its marketing stripped-down to basics. A bigger finish might have added to the overall effect, but it's still a lovely little film.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th May 2017: The Australian outpost of Y&R has quietly retired the long-established George Patterson tag. GPY&R becomes plain and simple Y&R. That rebrand follows a similar process whereby London's RKCR/Y&R relaunched late last year as Y&R London. GPY&R was created in 2005 from the acquisition by WPP of Cordiant's Bates network, including what was then George Patterson Bates. The two agencies merged as George Patterson Y&R. Patterson had himself been one of the pioneers of the Australian ad industry during the 1920s.
Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd Jun 2016: Cannes Lions Grand Prix Print & Publishing and Media: "McWhopper". The "McWhopper" campaign - in which Burger King proposed a joint burger with McD's to honour Peace Day last September - had been widely predicted to collect a cupboard-full of awards at Cannes. By the end of Wednesday it had collected two Grand Prix, for Print & Publishing and Media, as well as some metal awards. Perhaps not as well known as the campaign itself was the fact that it originated not in the US but in the New Zealand office of BK's local agency Y&R. They should probably be making room in the board room for more trophies this weekend, and also preparing for some sort of homecoming victory tour for what is already New Zealand's best-ever Cannes performance.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Apr 2016: Ads of the Week: "Question The Answers". GPY&R Melbourne breaks a few rules with this unexpectedly arty and challenging spot for local university Monash. Definitely not quite what you expect from an educational establishment and all the better for that. Supporting spots explain how various key Australian figures built the country by doing exactly what this ad suggests, by questioning the answers. Nice work.
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