The name of one of New Zealand's iconic ad agencies has reached the end of its road.
BC&F Dentsu (previously Barnes, Catmur & Friends) has been officially retired as part of a strategic reshuffle at its owner, advertising giant Dentsu.
The Japan-headquartered company announced this week that it was bringing together several of the network's capabilities under a single banner Dentsu organised across the three disciplines of creative, media and customer experience management.
This has led to the retirement of the BC&F Dentsu, Vizeum, MKTG, and With Collective brands in New Zealand.
BC&F Dentsu is the most storied of those companies in the local context, with a history dating back over two decades.
The agency was originally founded by industry legends Daniel Barnes and Paul Catmur, who built it into the hottest independent agency in the country before selling it to Dentsu in 2016 for an undisclosed sum. (The initial down payment was disclosed as $2.5 million).
After the acquisition, the name of the agency was simplified to BC&F Dentsu and advertising executive Murray Streets was brought in to take the reins.
Streets will stay with the streamlined Dentsu, assuming the position of managing director of the creative service line of the firm.
The media arm will be led by Richard Hale, while the customer experience management arm will come under the leadership of John Bessey.
Dentsu New Zealand managing director Robert Harvey told the Herald that this move wasn't about retiring brands, but rather about simplifying the structure of the organisation.
He said the organisation had been on this path for some time, adopting a single P&L model several years ago.
"This is about much more than a change of name and logo for our agencies
"It's about removing silos and ensuring clients get the best service we can offer across the customer journey."
Harvey said that operating with different entities within the same business created a naturally competitive environment that wasn't conducive to collaborations. He argues that by stripping away those separations, the teams will be better encouraged to work together on clients – particularly at a time when the media is highly fragmented.
Harvey confirmed that the restructure has led to some redundancies at the firm, but wouldn't comment on the numbers involved.
"We've had a small number of redundancies, but it's difficult to say whether they can be attributed to the structural changes or the impact of Covid-19."
The trend of consolidation has been happening across the advertising landscape in recent years, with major holding companies bringing together previously disparate brands.
Some of the changes have resulted in some acronym-heavy hybrids that have left many scratching their heads.
WPP has attracted significant attention in recent years for its willingness to bring its various entities together. In 2018, the advertising giant merged famous ad shop Y&R with digital agency VML to create Y&RVML. It followed this up by merging the JWT, the oldest ad agency in the world, with Wunderman to form Wunderman Thompson.
These moves have sometimes been controversial, provoking a sense of nostalgia across the industry due to the important role they played in progressing the advertising industry.
Harvey drew a distinction between WPP's strategy and what he was doing, saying that Dentsu's approach wasn't about merging certain parts of the business but rather about creating uniform identity across the board.
He says the media landscape - and with it the nature of advertising - is changing and agencies are increasingly in competition with multinational consultancies that offer cross-discipline strategic expertise to their clients.
"We don't see Dentsu as a holding company, but rather as a 'teaming company'", Harvey told the Herald, explaining that it was about getting the right team to help a client achieve an objective – whether that involves a creative, media or customer experience challenge.
"We are passionate about the power of diversity and bringing ideas from anyone, anywhere."
Harvey has also stressed that this strategy is unique to New Zealand and shouldn't be seen as indicative of what the Dentsu business is planning to do in other markets around the world.