Publicis Mojo chief executive Joe Pollard has stressed the sudden liquidation of Mojo New Zealand will not have any impact on the Australian operation, arguing the companies have not been strongly linked since the Publicis takeover last year.
At the close of 2012, Publicis made the shock decision to shut down the New Zealand office of the iconic agency, with sources suggesting there was little to no warning for the local executive team.
Historically, Mojo New Zealand and Mojo Australia have been treated as a linked entity. Before Publicis bought the remaining 40% of the company from local executives last year, the agency's most senior executive Graeme Wills was executive chairman across both Australian and New Zealand.
However, after the Publicis buyout, which saw Wills and other executives score a $50 million payout, the strong tie between the Australian and New Zealand operations was effectively severed.
When Pollard was brought in as chief executive last year, she was specifically tasked with overseeing the Australian operation only.
“The closure of the New Zealand office has absolutely no impact on the Australian business. The two agencies have not been connected, except with the same name, for the last 12 months.
“The only remaining connection is that we shared two or three clients.”
When asked about these specific client relationships, Pollard would not comment further.
Meanwhile, a Publicis spokeswoman said: “There is no longer any direct connection between the Australian and New Zealand offices.
“Of course, there were shared clients, but the majority have stuck with Publicis Mojo Australia.”
Again, when asked about specific client relationships, she declined to comment further, only saying, “Some of those relationships are still being worked out.”
Pollard also said that the closure would not affect any of the other Publicis agency brands in Australia and New Zealand. “This is an isolated event. Other Publicis Groupe agencies will remain unaffected.
“Saatchis, Burnetts, Mojo in Australia, ZenithOptimedia and Starcom will still be viable, and will still operate successfully.”
The exact reasons for the closure of the New Zealand operation have not been spelled out by Publicis. An article in StopPress New Zealand has suggested the agency owes $16 million, but Graeme Wills has told AdNews that most of this would probably be debt housed in the local agency by Publicis for tax reasons.
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