Struggling FCB has been put to sleep in Australia as the agency signs an ‘affiliation’ deal with local independent, AJF Partnership.
The announcement that the decades-old FCB brand will be folded in AFJ Sydney from August 4 has saddened former chief executive Colin Wilson-Brown. But Wilson-Brown, who was CEO until 2001 and is now principal of The Clinic, was not surprised by the news.
“They’ve struggled to win business and keep their head above water for the last decade really and I think loosing major clients like SC Johnson in Sydney and then Honda in Melbourne was inevitably going to lead to them deciding there was no point being here any longer, which is sad really.
“But if you could predict an old established agency name that was going to disappear from the market FCB would have been at the top of most people’s list.
“Big agencies that don’t have a clear personality and position and lots of international business aren’t going to survive in this market are they?”
Digby Richards, managing director of AJF Partnership Sydney, told B&T that five senior staff will be moving from FCB to AJF. The new staff will swell AJF Sydney’s workforce to just under 30.
Richards would not comment on how many FCB redundancies are to follow in the wake of the affiliation.
He also refrained from naming the FCB clients that are set to move to AJF but FCB’s website lists a number of clients including Oreo, Nivea, Lindt, Nivea Men and Wattyl Paint.
Richards said the move was consistent with FCB’s international strategy with the firm having chased affiliation agreements in other markets.
He described AJF’s partnership with FCB as a “non-equity affiliation” and said there would be no on-going relationship beyond AJF tapping into the FCB network from an intelligence point of view.
“There are no plans in that regard, it is just a commercial arrangement to help them in Australia,” Richards told B&T.
“Their approach is to get the best people in the market to help service their multi-national clients and luckily they chose us.”
Richards said he was excited to welcome the clients and five staff who are coming across, describing them as “grownups, not kids”.
“They have a similar culture to us which is business orientated, creative solutions. It’s not just about wacky ads, it is about helping clients grow their businesses.”
FCB has struggled in Australia, with the agency closing its Melbourne office in 2012 following the loss of Honda.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how long FCB has been in Australia, according to Wilson-Brown who sold Magnus Nankervis & Curl to FCB in 1993. Wilson-Brown believes FCB has been in the market from around the mid-70s “in one guise or another”.
FCB became DraftFCB in when it merged with Draft in 2006 but Draft was shaved off the agency’s name in March this year.
For more see AJF Partnership’s statement announcing the affiliation deal here.