McCann Worldgroup Australia acquires Smart – to become McCann Erickson Australia – Lilley replaces Mort as CEO of combined operation


Screen shot 2011-09-28 at 12.06.28 PM.jpgMcCann Worldgroup Australia announced today the acquisition of Australasian indy agency Smart. The combined operation will make McCann Erickson one of Australia’s largest agencies.

The new entity assumes the name McCann Erickson Australia and will operate in the current McCann Worldgroup offices.


SMART is owned and led by CEO Ben Lilley (above centre), Executive Creative Director John Mescall (above left) and Managing Partner and National Planning Director Ashley Farr (above right).

M.Raso.2011.jpegIn effect a reverse takeover, Effective immediately, Ben Lilley assumes the role as Chief Executive Officer of the combined operation, replacing Chris Mort. Ashley Farr will oversee the Sydney office and lead the planning discipline. McCann Sydney ECD Michael Raso (left), who joined from New York in December last year, will now have to report to Mescall – which may cause a clash of styles.

SMART has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland and has a range of local and global clients including adidas, ANZ Bank, Coca Cola, Dulux, Ferrero, Levi’s, News Limited, SEEK, Specsavers, Unilever, Vodafone and numerous government agencies.


Commenting on the leadership transition, Mort said: “McCann is an organization with a tremendous global heritage. Ben and the outstanding team at SMART are an exceptional complement to our network and this partnership will give McCann Worldgroup locally every opportunity to realize its capabilities.”


Charles Cadell, Regional Managing Director McCann Worldgroup SEA and Australasia commented: “SMART has an amazing reputation and is famous for its irreverent, youthful and exuberant advertising and its vibrant media footprint. The collective genius of SMART’s exceptional local expertise combined with the scale of McCann Worldgroup provides an even greater foundation to produce groundbreaking work from the local to the global stage. SMART considers itself a “borderless” agency that fits in seamlessly with the McCann Worldgroup mission of integration.”


CEO Ben Lilley said: “SMART has proudly been an independent agency with an outstanding track record of growth and creative excellence over the last ten years. Uniting with McCann Worldgroup was the perfect next step in our evolution. Our aspirations, vision and principles are absolutely aligned.  The combined competencies of our agencies coupled with the global footprint of McCann Worldgroup creates an unrivalled strategic and creative offering across the Australian and New Zealand markets.”