WPP’s Sorrell tries to stem more Y&R defections

WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell has been touring Australia (two days’ worth anyway, it’s only a continent) and one of his duties has been to try to persuade high profile Y&R Brands boss Russell Howcroft (left) not to join Lachlan Murdoch’s Channel Ten TV operation but to stay put.

Y&R Brands includes GPY&R (formerly George Patterson) and Ideaworks and used to include one-time creative flagship Campaign Palace, now, alas, no more. But it looks like Howcroft is off despite Sir Martin’s pleas.

There’s a bit of a pattern emerging here of top ad execs departing for media jobs. In February Hamish McLennan, another Aussie, quit as worldwide boss of Y&R to join Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (which competes on some fronts in Australia with Ten even though Lachlan is still on the News Corp board). McLennan’s job was described as ‘developing global brand partnerships’ for News Corp, whatever that may mean.

Murdoch pere et fils are busily expanding in Australia. Lachlan’s Illyria vehicle has just bought out Daily Mail & General Trust’s 50 per cent share of DMG Radio Australia to give it full control while News Corp has had a $2bn bid for James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings accepted as James (son of long-time Murdoch rival Kerry) concentrates on gambling interests. Let’s hope he’s more successful than his dad who used to lose (and no doubt win sometimes) huge amounts at the tables.

The big story here, of course, is the Murdochs owning even more of Australian media, an issue surely for the Government and Australians as a whole. But it’s also interesting that many of these companies are keen to recruit senior ad execs, especially those with access to big global advertisers. And that these in-demand execs seem more than keen to take up the offers.

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