The Campaign Palace (Australia)

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The Campaign Palace (TCP) was a full service advertising agency in Australia, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. In its heyday in the 1980s it was regarded as one of the country's leading creative shops, but performance declined steadily during the late 1990s and 2000s, following its sale to what is now George Patterson Y&R. Following a string of account losses, the agency finally closed its doors in 2012.

The Campaign Palace was originally established in Melbourne in 1972 by creative partners Gordon Trembath and Lionel Hunt as a consultancy working both for direct clients and under contract on behalf of larger agencies. By 1976, the company had so many direct clients that the decision was taken to set up as a fully accredited advertising agency, and a Sydney office was established in 1981. In those first ten years, famously, the agency wasn't fired by a single client, although some were resigned for not sufficiently appreciating the Palace's contribution. It also collected armfuls of awards for creative work. A New Zealand office in 1999, but closed three years later, and a media division, The Media Palace, was also launched in Australia.

Cordiant Communications, parent of the Bates Worldwide network, acquired a majority stake in the agency during the 1990s, but it was left to operate as a standalone shop, competing with the local arm of Bates. However, that buyout prompted the departure of Trembath and Hunt and marked the beginning of a downward spiral. (Four months after quitting the Palace, Hunt was lured out of early retirement to become the managing partner of Lowe's local outpost, Lowe Hunt). In 1996, three key managers left to form rival agency BMF, and there was a noticeable decline in the quality of TCP's creative output. There was a further dramatic slump following Cordiant's own acquisition by WPP.

In 2005, the agency was aligned with WPP's Red Cell Network, absorbing that group's existing local office, previously Batey Kazoo. Following the break-up of Red Cell in 2006, TCP was widely expected to join breakaway group United, but instead it was eventually shifted under the wing of the enlarged George Patterson Y&R group. By 2007, TCP had regained some of its edge and Y&R announced plans for a rollout of the Campaign Palace brand into other Asian markets, with Singapore as the likely first stop. However, that plan was put on hold for several years because of the recession. An office eventually opened in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2011.

In its final years, The Campaign Palace suffered a series of management disruptions. Jacques Burger, previously the head of Ogilvy South Africa, replaced Mark Mackay as national CEO in 2008. Mackay left the agency, only to return two years later as executive chairman, prompting Burger's resignation a month later. In its latter days Paul Fishlock was chairman of The Campaign Palace and executive creative director. One of the three executives who had jumped ship in the 1990s to launch BMF he returned to the business in 2004. He was replaced in 2011, apparently without prior warning, and subsequently issued a lawsuit against Y&R over his dismissal. The court found in his favour in 2013. Following a string of further account losses during 2012, including Bonds and Target, a decision was taken to shutter the agency. The Sydney office and its clients were absorbed into JWT; while the Melbourne outpost was folded into GPY&R.

Last full revision 4th October 2017


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