Is the STW/WPP merger good for the market?

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 21 April 2016
Image from Flazingo Photos

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While Connaghan might not think the dominance of WPP is a problem in the market, others think differently. Mark Green, CEO of independent agency The Monkeys, and The Works founding partner Damian Pincus give their views while Michael Knox, CCO of Grey Group Australia – part of the newly merged company – offers his.

Damian Pincus:

From an independent standpoint it’s excellent news. This whole deal with STW/ WPP and the negative publicity that surrounds it reminds clients what concerns them about Australian arms of multinationals. Locally there is little to no control and that makes for an unsteady ship. That is proven in the recent performance of the STW/WPP group.

Australia is a pioneering nation full of entrepreneurs – that’s what attracts clients to The Works and similar companies like The Monkeys, Cummins&Partners, AJF and With Collective, to name a few.

When you look at the DNA of the STW group dating back to John Singleton and Russell Tate they always made wise investments in independent businesses and let them continue to operate in an independent way. I’m sure with the WPP’s hands around the newly evolved business this will change.

Consolidation always seems an obvious place to start, but I don’t believe multinationals can feed their growth agenda without having local brands in the mix. Dealing with conflict and attracting entrepreneurial talent will become a more important issue that stunts their growth.

So I would say they will pick the winners and integrate the agencies that see no potential.

Mark Green:

The takeover of STW is another example of an Australian company being swallowed up by a multinational holding company. The same thing is happening with Clemenger and Omnicom. While some might shrug and see this as inevitable it creates a vacuum, but also the opportunity for local independents to grow and scale.

There is more freedom for companies where decisions are made locally. I think we may have a bigger opportunity right now because of these mega-mergers.

There are some great independents in the market – it will be interesting to see who can step up and command more market share. The multinationals dominate but I often talk to clients who would prefer to buy the services of a local independent agency.

Michael Knox

We’ve long been in the collaboration business.

The shape of our ideas is more interesting when different types of people from different disciplines work together. The expanded group and the philosophy of partnerships opens the door to more of that. It’s about access. Access to people and opportunity. It’s good that things get bigger.

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