The case of the missing Whybin - founder's name axed

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 19 September 2016
Rosie Baker AdNews editor

UPDATED: It was big news six months ago when Whybin\TBWA founder Scott Whybin revealed he was leaving the agency he founded 21 years ago. He's one of the biggest characters in Australian advertising.

The agency is still officially called Whybin\TBWA but it was interesting that a press release sent out last week announcing the new Virgin Mobile brand campaign from the agency made no reference to the 'Whybin' side of the business at all. The email subject line, the press release headline and the credits all named TBWA Sydney as the agency responsible. ECD Wesley Hawes was referred to as 'ECD of TBWA Sydney'.

So where has Whybin disappeared from? Does this signal a name change being ushered through with the hope that no one would notice? Has the Whybin brand been axed? And if so why – so unceremoniously. It's unlikely a shift like that would go unnoticed.

But apparently not.

A spokesperson for the agency, whose CEO Paul Bradbury is currently on well deserved long-service leave to mark 10 years with the agency, said it was nothing more than a mistake from Eleven PR, Whybin\TBWA group's PR arm which wrote and sent the release.

Perhaps it is nothing more than an oversight – but a rather large oversight. 

I can't imagine Clemenger BBDO ever sending a press release that called the agency 'BBDO' and forgot to include the 'Clemenger'.

The agency has for years been referred to as 'Whybins' with the global TBWA brand taking a back seat in favour of the locally recognised brand. I've no doubt that in the not-too-distant future the agency will revert to global form and become 'TBWA,' but it would seem strange to overhaul the agency's name in a period where the CEO is on vacation, and to do it so unceremoniously.

It's particularly pertinent since there has been ongoing speculation over the future name of the agency following Scott Whybin's departure.

Scott Whybin, understandably, is very protective of his name and the legacy that it has afforded the agency brand. He's all set to launch a new venture at some point in the future – and it wouldn't be beyond the realms of imagination that he'd want to use his name for that venture too.

So for now – Whybin\TBWA remains – but it won't be long before the global structure takes over the local brand.

UPDATE: After publishing this piece, and having been assured it was all a mix up – it's transpired that the agency spokesperson might have been mistaken herself.

The agency has in fact axed the Whybin name after 21 years, if some reports are to be believed. It is likely to be referred to as TBWA Sydney, TBWA Melbourne and TBWA Auckland in New Zealand. Although at this point the agency and the PR agency seem unable to confirm what it is actaully called.

This piece was edited with updated information.

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