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Y&R ANZ (formerly known as "George Patterson Y&R) is an Australasian advertising agency with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The New Zealand arm of Y&R Group's direct advertising agency operates as Y&R NZ and has offices in Auckland and Wellington. The agency was formed in 2005 when the international advertising holding conglomerate WPP Group acquired the Australian marketing communications company, The Communications Group (TCG).
The George Patterson agency was founded on 1 November 1934. George Patterson had started his advertising career at the age of 18 in 1908 and within a year had become Australia’s youngest advertising manager, at McPherson’s, a large engineering company. He left McPherson’s in 1913, wanting to gain experience of advertising overseas. He took on the job of advertising manager at a magazine in New York, before returning to Australia at the outbreak of war in 1914. Patterson served in a medical unit in Africa during the war, and in 1919 started his first agency. A partnership with Norman Catts followed, and Catts-Patterson became Australia’s largest agency.
One of the agency’s early clients was Palmolive. In 1921, George Patterson heard about a shipment of soap that had been destined for sale in the Far East, but the sale had fallen through. It had been diverted to Australia, and was waiting at the docks in Sydney before being sold to a wholesaler. Patterson contacted Palmolive and convinced the company that there was a market for their brand in Australia, "because the soap was already well-known through the circulation of American magazines." He offered to launch the brand, and it was a great success. Within two years a factory was under construction in Sydney, and all advertising was handled by George Patterson. The agency continues to work with Colgate-Palmolive to this day.
In 2017, George Patterson Y&R (GPY&R) was rebranded to Y&R ANZ.
TCG's primary advertising asset was the George Patterson agency which had dominated the Australian advertising market throughout the 2nd half of the 20th century. Known as "Patts" in the industry, the business had been George Patterson Advertising from its formation in 1934 when George Patterson demerged the Sydney and Melbourne business he had started in 1918 from Catts-Patterson; George Patterson Bates from the 1990s, when the agency's long-standing Asian affiliation with Bates Worldwide was formalised with an acquisition by Bates, then one of the two worldwide network holdings of Saatchi & Saatchi PLC; and George Patterson Partners at the time of the WPP acquisition, having been primed for sale under that name by the TCG management-buyout group since 2003.
As of 2017, Y&R ANZ with a system of local office leaders for Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Phil McDonald is the Regional CEO of Australia & New Zealand, Josh Moore is the Regional CCO for ANZ. Managing Directors include Matt Farrugia (Melbourne), Julian Bell (Melbourne), Sasha Firth (Sydney), Fiona Caird (Brisbane) and Jono Key (NZ / Auckland).
Y&R ANZ's major clients include Australia Post, Colgate Palmolive, Tatts, Public Transport Victoria, CrownBet and Monash University.
Y&R ANZ has won a number of awards and accolades. In the last few years, these include:
- No. 1 ranked Australian Agency 2012 AdNews and No. 1 ranked Australian Network 2012 AdNews
- Cannes Lions 2012 Australian Agency of the Year
- Effies 2012 Effectiveness Agency of the Year
- World’s Top Ten Agencies, Gunn Report 2013
- ADMA 2013 Australian agency of the year
In 2013 Y&R Group was 9th in BRW's Most Innovative Companies list.
The agency attracted controversy in May 2011 after it won a contract to "clean up" the social media policy of the Australian Defence Force. As well as criticising the decision not to relegate the task to the Government, a law firm or risk management consultant, The Advertiser reported that "Senior staff at the advertising agency promote degrading images of women and post bizarre messages on their social networking accounts." The social networking accounts, which at the time could be accessed via links on the firm's home page, referred to then Prime Minister Julia Gillard as a lesbian, and featured guides on topics such as "making your own sex toys". CEO Russel Howcroft admitted to being a member of the "Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society" group on Facebook. Other staff members could be seen drunk, one could be seen in a simulated sex act and others tweet statements such as "Where can I buy a Kate Middleton blow-up doll?". A spokesperson for George Patterson Y&R stated: "We do not believe that this material is in any way relevant to an assessment of the nature or quality of the professional services that GPY&R provides."
- Ryan, Rosemary (27 October 2005). "WPP Announces What Everyone Already Knew". bandt.com.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.[permanent dead link]
- McPhedran, Ian (21 May 2011). "Defence review team's sex controversy". The Advertiser. News Limited. Archived from the original on 21 August 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2011.