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News Plus 11 Nov 2021 - 3 min read

Dentsu poaches Cummins&Partners Kirsty Muddle to run ANZ creative group as BWM founders Paul Williams and Jamie Mackay exit after 25 years

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor
Kirsty Muddle

In a hastily called series of company briefings last night by Dentsu ANZ CEO Angela Tangas, the CEO of indie shop Cummins&Partners, Kirsty Muddle, was announced as the Creative Group CEO of Dentsu. It comes as founding partners of BWM, Dentsu’s creative flagship, complete their seven-year earnout and exit next month. 

Dentsu’s CEO Angela Tangas and her communications team went dark yesterday as speculation mounted that Cummins&Partners Founding Partner, Kirsty Muddle, was set to leave the indie shop and to join the Japanese-controlled giant as Creative Group CEO.

Dentsu issued a statement at 5am this morning confirming the appointment.

Muddle was only appointed last month as the group CEO at Cummins&Partners. The new role will see her land at Dentsu’s creative division, which is understood to be in good shape, but the broader Australian operation is under rising pressure from regional heavies, remote controlling the ANZ business on financial performance. Revenues at the group have been materially contracting for at least two years.   

Tangas has overseen changes in the group portfolio, including moving parts of its digital Isobar unit into BWM, which Muddle will take on. She will also have responsibility for Dentsu’s PR agencies, which came with BWM when the Japanese communications giant took a controlling stake from the agency founders seven years ago. 

Next month the “W” and “M” in BWM Dentsu, Paul Williams and Jamie Mackay, will complete their earnouts after Dentsu acquired an initial 51 per cent stake in the agency in 2015. Mackay will remain for an undislcosed term in an advisory role.

BWM’s former creative boss, Rob Belgiovane, left the business last year. At 25 years, BWM’s three founders have notched up one of the longest-serving partnerships in Australian advertising.  

Dentsu’s acquisition of BWM in 2015 came three years after BWM’s founders outlaid $7.5 million in 2012 to buy their business back from what is now the listed Enero, which has another creative shop, BMF, in its portfolio. 

Enero is now a solid business but its previous incarnation as Photon, essentially a debt-funded stock market roll-up of diversified marketing services companies, was so troubled BWM’s founders stumped up their own cash to flee.  

Three years later Dentsu handed BWM’s partners, a lucrative deal to sell again. They did but pledged seven years to the business. That deadline is now up and Kirsty Muddle has the reins.

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