Nikita Mishra
Apr 23, 2024

Dentsu ANZ restructures: CEOs Danny Bass and Steve Yurisich exit

The restructured model will also see regional leaders Fiona Johnston and Kirsty Muddle assume new responsibilities.

L-R: Danny Bass, Steve Yurisich, Fiona Johnston and Kirsty Muddle, Dentsu ANZ
L-R: Danny Bass, Steve Yurisich, Fiona Johnston and Kirsty Muddle, Dentsu ANZ

Dentsu ANZ has undergone a significant restructuring that reportedly saw the loss of at least 50 roles in recent months and the exit of Media CEO Danny Bass and Merkle chief executive Steve Yurisich.

The restructure for a “new and simplified model to create meaningful growth for clients” was across agency brands in ANZ and included vacant roles, freelancing arrangements, and contracts.

In other changes, chief client officer Fiona Johnston, who came on board in 2022, will lead a new vertical called client counsel and commercial vertical. Furthermore, Kirsty Muddle, CEO of Dentsu Creative, will oversee 'product and practices' across Australia and New Zealand. Rob Harvey remains as chief executive of New Zealand.

The three continue to report to Dentsu ANZ chief executive officer Patricio De Matteis.

Financial context

In February, the Japan-headquartered agency reported weak earnings. Net revenues saw a slight 1.6% increase, while organic growth declined by 4.9% over the fiscal year. Among several markets, Australia stood out with negative organic growth, reporting less than -10% in the December quarter for the full 2023 year.

The primary drivers for adopting a leaner structure were costs and the need to enhance the efficiency of overall business operations. Australia was prioritised during the full-year results announcement, and plans were set in motion to rebuild the core business.

Negative organic growth in the Australian and New Zealand businesses was influenced by factors such as economic uncertainty, increased competition, lower client spend, and account losses. These challenges contributed to the agency’s strategic focus on streamlining operations and revitalising its core business in the region.

“Our clients are experiencing increasing pressure to evolve at speed," De Matteis said in a statement. “We need to help them deliver at the pace they need and the consumer expects, and importantly, with a solution and product that delivers growth now and for the next. What excites me is the convergence of all of our capabilities—strategy, data and tech, creative, media, CXM to innovate for our clients, without any barriers. Not only can we move at the pace our clients want but create at the pace consumer’s need.”

The new model allows Dentsu to maintain its eight agency brands, including Dentsu Creative, iProspect, Carat, DentsuX, SMG, Cox Inall Ridgeway, TAG, and Merkle. However, many of the core agencies, such as Dentsu Creative, Carat, iProspect, DentsuX, and Merkle, no longer have CEOs leading them.

Campaign Asia

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