Ad agency JWT Israel to close by April

Yoram Dembinsky / Photo: Eyal Izhar, Globes

The decision to close JWT, an advertising pioneer in Israel which has declined from its 1990s peak, was taken by WPP.

It's always sad to see an advertising agency close down, but the closure of an agency whose managers are among the pioneers of the industry in Israel is doubly so. Advertising firm J Walter Thompson Israel (JWT- formerly Tamir-Cohen), will close down by this Passover, sources inform "Globes." The firm's management assembled its employees last Thursday and notified them of what was happening.

The decision to close down the firm was taken by the owners of the overseas WPP firm, which plans to close its offices in Israel. JWT is not currently one of the largest advertising firms, but its activity in Israel is not what caused the decision to close down; the change in the international firm's ownership structure two years ago was the decisive factor. With the retirement of Martin Sorrell, the group's legendary chairman, structural changes were implemented in which two advertising firms, Wunderman and JWT, were merged. It was Wunderman's management that took the reins, and decided to close down its representative offices in Israel.

JWT has one important international account: Colgate Palmolive. WPP, the owner of JWT, has another arm in Israel in the shape of advertising agency Adler Chomski, which represents WPP unit Grey. MediaCom Interaction, owned by Adler Chomski, is already Colgate's media buyer in Israel, and it will presumably also obtain the creative account. JWT also has local accounts, such as James Richardson, Materna, and others, the fate of which will presumably be decided in the coming weeks.

The shuttering of JWT's activity also includes closing down Young and Rubicam Israel (formerly Shalmor Avnon Amichay). JWT co-owner Yoram Dembinsky has managed the two firms in recent years.

JWT began operating in the Israeli advertising sector in 1934. Its original name was Dr. Jacobsohn Advertising, and it later became Weimar Jacobson, owned by Gerhard Jacobsohn and Reuven Weimar. Publicist David Tamir joined the firm in the early 1980s, and the firm's name was changed to Weimar Jacobson Tamir. Tamir brought another partner, Roni Cohen, into the firm in 1982, and its name was changed again, this time to Weimar Tamir-Cohen (Jacobsohn). When Weimar retired in 1985, the name Tamir-Cohen remained.

In the mid-1980s and in the 1990s, Tamir-Cohen led the industry, managing the largest accounts in the market, including Strauss and Pelephone.

The firm's success was not confined to an influx of clients and media recognition; it was also renowned for its ability to translate its success into money. Tamir-Cohen was among the first in the Israeli advertising industry to realize the asset it had created in a deal with an international agency. This deal was regarded was one of the most successful ever made in the sector: in mid-2000, 50% of the firm's shares were sold to WPP group subsidiary JWT. The firm's name was later changed to JWT Israel as part of the chain's international branding.

Tamir-Cohen's luck gradually ran dry, however. The industry mood began to change, new players became the stars of a new generation, and JWT's power began to wane. The firm lost the Strauss Elite account in 2001, an anchor account, followed by the loss of a large mass of accounts, and the firm came apart.

Shortly before its big collapse, publicist Yoram Dembinsky was appointed managing partner. Cohen left the firm's ownership and management, but Tamir, the eternal advertising prince, stayed involved until the end. Under the management of Dembinsky, who held 18% of the shares, JWT saw good times and bad times, but the firm never regained the influence it had in its heyday.

The investment in Tamir-Cohen was not the WPP group's only unsuccessful investment in the Israeli advertising market. Another investment, the acquisition of the Shalmor Avnon Amichay advertising firm, also proved unprofitable. As in the case of Tamir-Cohen, a few years after the acquisition, when the firm's founders retired from regular activity, its business collapsed.

It appears that in the case of JWT, what sealed its fate was an almost total cessation of business from the Electra group.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 27, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Yoram Dembinsky / Photo: Eyal Izhar, Globes
Yoram Dembinsky / Photo: Eyal Izhar, Globes
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