MoJo, the agency that had Australia singing along to its ads for beer, cricket and margarine, will vanish from the Sydney advertising scene as owner Publicis folds the business into a new Australian outpost of the global agency Marcel.
Mumbrella reports that the merger comes as the French parent company, Publicis, struggles to restructure the Sydney business following the loss of major accounts, including Toyota. The MoJo name will live on in Melbourne and Brisbane for now.
MoJo was founded in 1979 by the late Alan Morris (Mo) and Allan Johnston (Jo). They built a reputation for capturing a larrikin sense of Australiana in catchy jingles, helping to launch World Series Cricket for Kerry Packer and Channel Nine with “C’mon Aussie C’mon!”, which became a pop song in its own right by The MoJo singers and reached No. 1 on the charts. It became one of 1979’s top 25 singles, alongside “I Was Made For Loving You” by Kiss, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats.
Network 10 GM Russel Howcroft once described the pair as “the Lennon and McCartney of Australian advertising” who for two decades “dominated advertising in a way we might never see again”.
Johnston’s husky voice managed to rhyme with polyunsaturated for Meadow Lea “You oughta be congratulated” and they also gave the nation’s beer drinkers something to sing along to with “I feel like a Tooheys” and “I can feel a Fourex coming on”.
But they will best be remembered for getting Paul Hogan to tell the world in 1984 that he’ll “put another shrimp on the barbie” if they come visit, in ads for Tourism Australia.
MoJo was named international agency of the year for 1986 and by the end of the 1980s, it was Australia’s largest ad agency, having merged to become MojoMDA. It was bought by US agency Chiat\Day in 1989, only to be sold again a few years later and then again in 1997 to Publicis, where it gave the nation another iconic moment with the 1998 Qantas campaign using Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home”.
Alan Morris died in 2007.
Johnston still dabbles in advertising, having written ads for the 2014 relaunch of the Rosella brand, which he also sang the jingle for.
Mumbrella has the details of MoJo’s demise here.