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    Dentsu restructures: Danny Bass and Steve Yurisich exit, Fiona Johnston and Kirsty Muddle promoted

    Dentsu Media CEO Danny Bass and Merkle CEO Steve Yurisich have exited dentsu as the Japanese-owned holding company makes 50 roles redundant.

    Those redundancies include vacant roles, freelancing arrangements, and contracts. The Merkle redundancies were made at the start of the month, while those at iProspect occurred in February.

    The restructure is in service of a “new and simplified model to create meaningful growth for clients.”

    That model involves the creation of two streams: client counsel and commercial, and product and practices, accompanied by the promotions of Fiona Johnston, formerly Bass’ direct report as chief client officer, and Kirsty Muddle, formerly Bass’ creative counterpart as Dentsu Creative CEO.

    Across AUNZ, Johnston becomes the lead of client counsel and commercial, while Muddle will lead product and practices, which captures media, creative, data, and digital.

    “This is no reflection of the capabilities, relationships, and leadership Danny or Steve have brought into our business,” dentsu AUNZ CEO Patricio De Matteis said.

    “We are grateful for their huge contribution and support in helping us shape what a winning future state model for dentsu looks like, and to help us set a strong platform for growth of our media and Merkle brands.”

    Bass – the former Snap, Mediabrands, and GroupM exec – joined the business a year and a half ago, while Yurisich was promoted to CEO of Merkle a year ago. He joined Merkle in March 2022 as chief growth officer.

    dentsu added that Bass “has fulfilled a huge role over the past 18 months helping firm up dentsu’s media business, bringing in senior key talent to lift its capability, deepen key client relationships and strengthen dentsu’s media and Mutinex partnerships.”

    Yurisich, meanwhile, “has played a pivotal role in helping reposition the Merkle business as a strategic partner for clients with the right capabilities, expertise, and agility to drive large scale transformations.”

    De Matteis joined dentsu 16 months ago, taking over from former CEO Angela Tangas, who headed to the UK for a senior role with the holding company. She  had succeeded Henry Tajer in 2019, following his short-lived stint in the top job.

    Last year, dentsu had a 93% client retention rate locally, and improved its staff retention by 13 percentage points: churn has gone from 45% in 2022 to 22% in 2023 under De Matteis’ leadership.

    He said that the new model will deliver benefits to clients by unifying dentsu’s capabilities.

    “Our clients are experiencing increasing pressure to evolve at speed. We need to help them deliver at the pace they need and the consumer expects. Importantly with a solution and product that delivers growth now and for the next,” he said.

    “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 consumers need.”

    Amidst the changes, Rob Harvey will remain CEO of dentsu New Zealand. Johnston, Muddle, and Harvey will continue to report to De Matteis.

    The streamlined proposition at a holding company level will not impact the individual agency brands: Dentsu Creative, iProspect, Carat, dentsuX, SMG, Cox Inall Ridgeway, TAG and Merkle will “remain strong and active”, dentsu said.

    The changes were announced to staff on Monday afternoon. 

    Top image L-R: Bass, Yurisich, Johnston, Muddle

    The post Dentsu restructures: Danny Bass and Steve Yurisich exit, Fiona Johnston and Kirsty Muddle promoted appeared first on Mediaweek.

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