In Henry Tajer’s Defence, He Was Handed The Proverbial Shit Sandwich!

In Henry Tajer’s Defence, He Was Handed The Proverbial Shit Sandwich!
SHARE
THIS



It started with great fanfare but ended a mere 10 months later as a bit of a messy disaster. Henry Tajer’s short-lived reign as Dentsu Aegis Network’s CEO finished with a fizzle via a shock announcement from the holding group yesterday afternoon.

Tajer’s out – alongside the agency’s CFO, Reg Davidson – to be replaced immediately by chief commercial officer Angela Tangas.

When the 49-year-old was hoisted into the CEO role back in January – he’d been at his previous role at Amazon a mere five months – he appeared to be the best local candidate (of few possibilities) to replace the departing Simon Ryan.

With two decades of experience at WPP and IPG, Tajer – a self-confessed Sorrell fan – appeared the right man to lead DAN (by that we mean its media agencies) to its digital, martech and programmatic future, that would see off its (cheaper) rivals and keep those damn consultancies and tech giants at bay.

For too long, DAN’s media agencies – Carat, Vizeum and dentsuX (formerly Dentsu Mitchell) – had proven its cash cow, boasting an enviable list of big spending clients that included the likes of Woolworths, Virgin Airlines, L’Oreal and the AFL.

Interestingly, DAN boasts a flotilla of top performing creative agencies too – namely BWM Dentsu, Isobar and WiTH Collective (that merged with Isobar last week). As anyone who reads B&T’s monthly new business wins report, Isobar is regularly near, if not at, the top. But, as we know, as there are decreasing margins in media, there’s often f@ck-all in creative.

In an interview with The Australian in February, Tajer said he’d been given free rein as the agency’s incoming CEO and there was no interference from Dentsu’s bosses in Tokyo. Although, that may have been a misconception on Tajer’s part. When DAN promoted Ashish Bhasin to CEO of its APAC agencies in September, it was clear Tajer did indeed have a new and formidable taskmaster based out of its Singapore office.

Commenting on Tajer’s abrupt departure in a statement yesterday, Bhasin didn’t mince his words. “It was the right decision for the network and market,” he said. The fact that DAN also used Tajer’s departure to announce his replacement in Angela Tangas would infer that his exit had been orchestrated for some time now.

In Tajer’s defence, he inherited a problem child in DAN when he took the job in January. Not only was business walking out the door, but senior people too. Just prior to Tajer’s arrival, the agency had lost its CEO Simon Ryan.

The turnover didn’t stop once Tajer commenced, with Carat managing director Simon Williams, head of public affairs and communications Andrew Hewett, Amplifi boss Adrian Roeling and managing director of DAN’s data-marketing agency Columbus Mitchell McBeath all leaving during Tajer’s tenure.

But Tajer set about making DAN the smaller and more agile agency he promised when he took the role. That included culling its 1800 existing staff and namely folding its media innovation and investment arm Amplifi in May amid claims that clients hated it and, only last week, merging (the presumably underperforming) creative agency WiTH Collective into Isobar.

Not that Tajer didn’t understand the enormity of the job ahead of him. In an interview with Mi3 in June, Tajer said: “I’m not going to sugar coat we’ve had a number of account losses. You do not lose accounts because things are going well”. Tajer also described the business as “over engineered”.

And sadly, business just kept walking out the door. There was insider talk that the culture was rotten and rudderless at DAN HQ – primarily at media agency Carat – which had led to, under Tajer’s lead, an astonishing $300 million worth of client spend to up-and-leave to rival agencies.

In the past 12 months, DAN has lost the media spends of David Jones, Australia Post, The Good Guys, Virgin Australia, Bega, Asahi, Super Retail Group, and the AFL – all of who are local clients.

In better news, it retained Woolworths and, in August, the $50 million account for private insurers Medibank and AHM.

Back in February, Tajer told The Oz: “I don’t think our clients care that much about our brands, I think they’re more focused on their own brands. I think that’s an opportunity for us to get a lot more customer-centric, client-centric and understand what they’re trying to do and fit the capabilities in a more tailored way.”

Where Tajer will find himself next is anyone’s guess. Arguably, experience like his is hard to replicate in Australia’s media landscape that includes four years as CEO of UM, seven years as CEO of IPG Mediabrands – two of which as global CEO in New York – and a stint, albeit a brief one, as MD of Amazon’s Media Group. The question remains: experience too good to lose or time for a new career?

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Dentsu Aegis Network Henry Tajer

Latest News

Hands using mobile payments, Digital marketing. Banking network. Online shopping and icon customer networking connection on virtual screen, Business technology concept
  • Media

IAS Report: Australian Digital Advertisers Experience Higher Brand Risks Across All Buying

Today, Integral Ad Science (IAS), a global leader in digital ad verification, released its Media Quality Report (MQR) for H2 2020, providing transparency into the performance and quality of Australian digital media, alongside global comparisons. Integral Ad Science’s H2 2020 MQR highlights brand safety, ad fraud, and viewability trends across display, video, mobile web, and […]

Quintis Appoints Illuminate As Global PR Partner
  • Media

Quintis Appoints Illuminate As Global PR Partner

Quintis Sandalwood has appointed Illuminate as its global PR partner following a competitive pitch process. Proudly Australian, Quintis produces and markets Indian Sandalwood oil, logs, chips and powder products across the world to major companies in industries such as fragrance, aromatherapy, cosmetics, handicrafts and Traditional Chinese Medicine industries. Illuminate will be responsible for a global communications […]

Image lead story Even More Pics From The 30 Under 30 Awards!
  • Media

Even More Pics From The 30 Under 30 Awards!

Hopefully the weekend has given everyone enough time to recover from B&T’s 30 Under 30 awards and prepare themselves for our official photo dump! We shared some of the highlights last week, and now you can peruse all of the pictures taken on the night. Thank you to everyone for attending this year’s awards, and […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Kinderling Kids Streams Ahead With Direct-To-Consumer Offering
  • Marketing

Kinderling Kids Streams Ahead With Direct-To-Consumer Offering

Kinderling Kids Radio (Kinderling) has announced the completion of its move from DAB+, where it launched six years ago, to a direct-to-consumer streaming model, accessible online or through the Kinderling Kids iOS and Android app. The Parent Brand, the parent company of Kinderling Kids and Babyology, made the decision to shift as streaming and on-demand […]

RUN Take On The Flu
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

RUN Take On The Flu

Globally award-winning, indie agency RUN, have launched the New Zealand National Influenza Immunization Campaign, running over the next 8 weeks across TV, digital, social, print and press.

Audika Says Stop Ignoring The ‘Whats’ And Get A Hearing Test, Via Ward6
  • Campaigns

Audika Says Stop Ignoring The ‘Whats’ And Get A Hearing Test, Via Ward6

Most people over 60 stay on top of their health with regular check-ups. Whether it’s eyes, prostate or breasts, they realise at their age it’s important. But one that gets ignored is hearing. They’d rather live with gradual hearing loss, and continually ask what, huh, pardon or sorry until it seriously impacts their life and […]

Connecting Plots To Handle [yellow tail] Social Media Following Account Win
  • Media
  • Technology

Connecting Plots To Handle [yellow tail] Social Media Following Account Win

Creative communications agency Connecting Plots has been appointed by Casella Family Brands to handle the social media accounts for [yellow tail] wine in Australia. The win follows an audit of the Casella Family Brands social activities, which led to [yellow tail] rethinking its approach to social media and how it aligns with its overall marketing […]

HERO’s B.B.E Wins v2food Account
  • Media

HERO’s B.B.E Wins v2food Account

v2food, has appointed HERO’s B.B.E as the lead strategic and creative agency for the brand following a competitive pitch process. v2food is an Australian pioneering food technology business with a global vision to feed the planet sustainably. After launching nationally in 2019, v2food has been on a mission to offer Australians an easy alternative to meat […]

Rows of coins isolated on white background. Finance and banking concept.
  • Media

Magnite And Adform See Monetisation Uplift Using First-Party Identifiers

Magnite (Nasdaq: MGNI), the largest independent sell-side advertising platform, today announced it has been working with Adform, the only independent global ad management platform covering all aspects of the digital campaign lifecycle, to scale first party identifiers in privacy-safe ways. With the pending elimination of third-party cookies, the industry must establish future-proof identity solutions for publishers and buyers.

Martin Box Named Co-Chair Of Commercial Producers Council
  • Media

Martin Box Named Co-Chair Of Commercial Producers Council

The Commercial Producers Council is delighted to announce the appointment of Martin Box (pictured) as its new Co-Chair, effective immediately. Box, Head of Production at Airbag, joins Co-Chair Pip Smart, and fills the vacancy left by Lucas Jenner who steps aside from the Co-Chair role after four years of service, in accordance with the CPC’s […]