Y&R NZ ‘unaffected’ by Howcroft move

A shake-up of Y&R across Australasia will not affect the agency's New Zealand operation.

A shake-up of Y&R across Australasia will not affect the agency’s New Zealand operation.

Russel Howcroft, the Sydney-based chief executive and chairman for Y&R Brands Australia and New Zealand, prompted the restructure after he moved to Australia’s Ten Network.

Mr Howcroft’s new executive general manager role will put him in charge of the tv station’s operations in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but not Sydney.

However, he remains with Y&R Brands as chairman, but his move led Y&R Brands ANZ to give chief financial officer Jason Buckley additional responsibilities as COO.

No decision has been made as to a successor for Mr Howcroft, with Australian media saying Y&R brands is not looking to directly replace him. Y&R owners WPP is instead said to be building up city-based offices, rather than creating an Australasian structure.

However, Y&R New Zealand today said the changes across the Tasman have neglible impact on operations here.

Y&R managing director James Hurman says he has “a lovely relationship” with Mr Howcroft, recalling it was he who lured him back to New Zealand from Hong Kong to take up his current role.

“But our day-to-day relationship and reporting to Oz is done through Jason Buckley,” Mr Hurman told NBR ONLINE. “He’s based in Sydney. He remains our day-to-day contact and reporting line. It [the changes] don’t affect us at all.” 

Mr Howcroft, who has been at Y&R since 2006, starts at Network Ten in February.

He is a major figure in Australasian advertising. He is a former chairman of the Advertising Federation of Australia and is a regular face on television programmes, including ABC TV’s The Gruen Transfer, which is also broadcast in New Zealand. 

ABC has said Mr Howcroft’s move to a rival station will not affect his appearances on its show.

“Russel will stay on as chairman of the Y&R Group. He will continue to support and inspire as he always has done. He’s a really big personality. He loves what he does. He’s passionate about the industry, which is why he will go on tv,” Mr Hurman says.

Admitting the partial departure of Mr Howcroft was “a bit of a setback” for Y&R, it remained “business as usual. I have been here six weeks now and am right in the middle of getting my feet under the desk”.

Mr Hurman hopes to announce a new client in the near future, but for now the major development is the agency’s 50 Auckland staff moving offices from Parnell to the Auckland CBD before Christmas.

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