Dentsu Restructure: Muddle, Harvey & Johnston Take Leadership Baton As Bass & Yurisich Exit

Dentsu Restructure: Muddle, Harvey & Johnston Take Leadership Baton As Bass & Yurisich Exit

Two of Dentsu ANZ’s top brass have departed and two others have been elevated into new roles, as the business continues to overhaul its operating model amid further rounds of redundancies in recent months.

Lead image: Kirsty Muddle, Rob Harvey and Fiona Johnston report into Dentsu ANZ CEO Patricio De Matteis.

Dentsu Media’s lead Danny Bass and Merkle boss Steve Yurisich have left the group, while chief client officer Fiona Johnston and Dentsu Creative boss Kirsty Muddle have taken on new roles. Johnston will now lead a new vertical called ‘Client Counsel and Commercial’; and Muddle takes the helm of ‘Product + Practices’. Rob Harvey will continue as CEO of Dentsu’s operations in NZ.

The move is part of a leadership restructure that aims to position Dentsu more in the mould of a consultancy. It removes almost all of the CEO roles of the media and creative agencies, including Dentsu media’s Bass and and Dentsu Creative’s Muddle.

Dentsu retains its eight agency brands – Dentsu Creative, iProspect, Carat,  DentsuX, SMG, Cox Inall Ridgeway, TAG and Merkle – but most of the core agencies, including Dentsu Creative, Carat, iProspect, DentsuX and Merkle, are not led by CEOs.

Some of these agencies have gone through further rounds of redundancies. Dozens of roles at Merkle, and a handful at iProspect, have been cut in recent months.

In December, Dentsu Media’s chief investment officer Ben Shepherd and iProspect Melbourne’s MD Paul Murphy left, and Carat went through its own changes last year. It’s not just ANZ that has been impacted; several senior cuts have swept across Dentsu’s APAC region.

Dentsu said the restructure is designed to put “client solutions at the heart of the business, with a focus on connecting its world class capabilities”.​ 

“Our clients are experiencing increasing pressure to evolve at speed. We need to help them deliver at the pace they need and the consumer expects. Importantly with a solution and product that delivers growth now and for the next,” Dentsu ANZ chief executive officer Patricio De Matteis said. 

“What excites me is the convergence of all of our capabilities, strategy, data & tech, creative, media, CXM to innovate for our clients, without any barriers. Not only can we move at the pace our clients want, but create at the pace consumer’s need.” 

a challenging period

This latest restructure follows several rounds of redundancies at Dentsu over the past 18 months with reports of up to 150 job losses since the start of 2023. It also comes off the back of a tumultuous period for the Japanese headquartered holding company, which reported FY23 organic revenue declines of 8.2 per cent in APAC, 10.9 per cent in EMEA and 7.3 per cent in the Americas.

De Matteis was charged with taking over the transformation baton when he took the helm from former boss Angela Tangas in January 2023.  

Under her tenure – which had polarised some within Dentsu – Tangas led an aggressive consolidation drive to cut down two dozen agency and service divisions into eight core brands, eventually leaving the business in September 2022 to perform a similar transformation role at Dentsu UK and Ireland.

The departure of Bass comes less than a year after the former CEO of Dentsu Media UK, Hamish Nicklin, left that business, and there are plans to cut a further 2 per cent of the UK and Ireland workforce this year.

Bass played a critical role steadying the ship at Dentsu’s then struggling media arm, including shoring up relations with one of its largest clients, Woolworths; making a series of senior hires and forging closer ties with marketing mix modelling platform Mutinex, which has been reported by Mi3 as his next destination.

Dentsu said that Yurisich, who has led Merkle for just over a year, after joining from Accenture Song, has helped reposition Merkle as a “strategic partner for clients”.

On the departure of Bass and Yurisich, De Matteis said: “This [restructure] is no reflection of the capabilities, relationships and leadership Danny or Steve have brought into our business. We are grateful for their huge contribution and support in helping us shape what a winning future state model for Dentsu looks like, and to help us set a strong platform for  growth of our media and Merkle brands.”

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Canva Unveils Enterprise Era With Powerful New Workplace Products Debuted At Canva Create
  • Media

Canva Unveils Enterprise Era With Powerful New Workplace Products Debuted At Canva Create

At its first international Canva Create event in Los Angeles today, Canva, the world’s only all-in-one visual communication platform, accelerated its focus on the enterprise, debuting the platform’s biggest overhaul in a decade alongside a range of new workplace products and services poised to redefine the way millions of people work. Lead image: Canva Founders […]

Cashrewards: A Decade Strong!
  • Partner Content

Cashrewards: A Decade Strong!

Cashrewards' CEO muses on the company's 10 year anniversary. Still refusing to answer questions about a possible party.

Partner Content

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Network 10 Axes Gladiators
  • Media

Network 10 Axes Gladiators

Alas, 10's Gladiators has gone as quickly as it came. Should make for a very wild garage sale, however.