Alt Facts? Sean Cummins slams Mumbrella re CumminsHybrid merger story: "This is the most inaccurate reporting I have witnessed in years."

Sean-Cummins.jpgUPDATED - While AdNews, B&T and Campaign Brief all reported yesterday on the merger of Cummins & Partners, Adelaide and Hybrid to form CumminsHybrid, Mumbrella headlined their report: Cummins & Partners closes Adelaide office with staff moving across to rebranded local agency.

In a stinging comment under the Mumbrella story, Cummins &Partners founder Sean Cummins (left) wrote:
This is the most inaccurate reporting i have witnessed in years. I admired Mumbrella. I don't today.

We have moved office space. We have merged with a strong local born agency and have created an entity in Adelaide CumminsHybrid of which we hope the town will be proud. Mumbrella you shouldnt be proud of this sensationalist and quite honestly misleading report. We get no favours from an ad industry that revels in knocking us. And you have just fed that appetite with this slop.
Shame on you.
This is exciting news for Adelaide. And for us.

Sean Cummins

Three of the four other commentators agreed with Cummins.

Hi said: When two agencies merge - and merge names, and merge staff, and merge management teams - is it right to say an office has 'closed'?

Yellow Journalism said: I know if I ran a business, I would certainly know the difference between a 'merged' business and a 'closed' business. This sounds like sensationalism at the expense of an agency trying to grow in a tough market.

Ouch said: Wow. ouch. In all mergers someone's office must close but that doesn't mean the business closes. It's actually factually incorrect to imply the business has closed. It's living on right????

Cummins then made a further comment:

Yes. The business is living on. Bigger and better. But because the office building has closed, the clever clogs at Mumbrella thought that headline would sound more dramatic. It is pretty poor form, it suggests our agency is closing..and it has upset a lot of people...including myself.. and yet Mumbrella stands by it...because yes.. the office (building) we once inhabited is closed. Because we moved to a new one.
Hilarious right?

Sean Cummins

Later comments:

Unbelievable said: So even after Sean has written to you and clarified details on the merger, you still don't change the headline of your article? That sums up your lack of care for the truth and focus only on sensationalism.

To which Mumbrella editor Vivienne Kelly replied:

Hi 'Unbelievable', Sean has indeed written to us about this article, but I think he would agree with me that those emails are off the record.

Sean has executed his right to reply in this very comment thread for everyone to see. People can now read the article, and Sean's take on it, and make a decision about where they stand - as you clearly have.

Mumbrella stands by the article as is and even though we have communicated with Cummins about the merger, we believe there are unanswered questions about the new ownership structure, staff numbers and stakeholders. Sean also stands by his position.

It's worth noting that despite the extent of this disagreement, we are by no means at war with Cummins or Sean.

Vivienne - Mumbrella

That comment was followed by this:

What?? said: "At the time of posting, Cummins & Partners had not answered Mumbrella's questions about which clients or how many staff had moved across, other than an email saying it was "all" of them." That sounds like a pretty definitive answer to me. I'm not sure how you could be any more clear?

CB has tried to contact Mumbrella reporter Zoe Samios, who wrote the story, for a comment, but she is currently on leave. We have resent that email to Mumbrella editor Vivienne Kelly for comment. The only response from Mumbrella has been the comment from Tim Burrowes in the comment stream below.


Not surprising said:

Glad to hear your news Sean. But not surprised at Mumbrella trying to twist it. Let's not beat around the bush. They thrive on misinformation and nastiness to get people to read their slithering little site. They are at the bottom of the journalism food chain.

PR Queen said:

This is why I never, ever send them my agencies' PR releases. They used to always get twisted so two years back we cut them off the list. Most of my peers with ad agency clients have similar experiences with Mumbo.

Overseas creative said:

Me and a few people at work who came here from overseas are really surprised by mumbrealla on how they constantly twisted stories to make agencies look bad. overseas trade press and agencies would usually support esch other.

Riiiiiight said:

Probably over egged, but Campaign Brief calling anyone out for anything journalistic seems ridiculous. Did Sean press release this?

More of this please said:

Then there's this gem:

And this comment from the author:

Paul Priday 13 Jan 17
It is encouraging that Miranda Ward‘s article featuring a part of my thesis has stirred up both bouquets and brickbats. It’s a discussion we need to have. (I should point out that I was not interviewed for this article.) Gender relations in workplaces are beginning to get the overdue attention they deserve which hopefully will lead to changes. I feel it is important to state that the two participating Sydney agencies supported my research because they were aware of and wanted to learn more about these issues and hoped my research would reveal possible ways to address them.

However, the article is based on only half the study the main focus of which is ‘masculinities and creativity.’ (Research took place in Delhi and Shanghai as well as Sydney). I was interested in the relationship between male creatives and their work and its importance in managing and forming their identities. This was balanced by the juxtaposed opinions of the women who worked with them. Gender relations form the backdrop against which this is played out.

If you would like to read my thoughts on the article and an explanation of the thesis, please visit

Hi Michael,

It’s disappointing that you wouldn’t approach a member of the Mumbrella management team for comment prior to publication while writing an article about good journalistic practice.

It’s also disappointing that you’d go after a relatively new member of the Mumbrella team in this self-interested way.

The differences in approach between the titles is this:

I happened to be in Adelaide and, acting on a tip-off, visited what had been the Cummins & Partners office and discovered that it was indeed locked up, with post on the doorstep. At the published new address there was no sign of the agency’s presence.

When Zoe, as a member of our reporting team, was instructed to make inquiries, Cummins & Partners issued a press release to us and shortly afterwards to the rest of the trade press.

You’re correct that all of you republished the press release, while we wrote a news story about it.

As we made clear in our article, Cummins have so far declined to answer detailed questions about number of staff or clients moving across, the sort of things that prove it’s really a merger rather than a graceful exit.

I stand by that reporting. But final decisions on a news story angle lies with myself and our editor Vivienne, not with Zoe.

Meanwhile, for what it’s worth, all of the comments you quote in your article come from IP addresses previously associated with the agency in question so perhaps treat them as a comment on behalf of the agency..

And please don’t try to inflame this into a non-existent war between Mumbrella and Cummins & Partners even if that suits Campaign Brief’s purposes as a competitor to Mumbrella. I think Cummins are a great agency and indeed are deservedly our agency of the year. We happen to disagree with Sean on the reporting of this particular matter.

But it’s not our job to publish press releases - we’ll leave that to you. It’s our job to do our best to tell our readers what’s going on.

Tim Burrowes - Content director, Mumbrella

Ironic said:

I don't think this is any worse than you refusing to allow negative comments about Matt Oczkowski and his ADMA talk.

(I wonder if you'll allow this)

Boycott the Mumbrella Awards said:

Simple as that. They criticise the very agencies that they encourage to enter. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, Tim.

The O'ld I.P address threat from Mumbrella said:

A classic swipe from Mumbrella. The fact this childish threat is their "goto" retaliation whenever challenged, exposes their character as business.

Michael Lynch said:


I did try to contact Zoe but as she was away on holiday, the email bounced back. I then resent the email to Simon Canning who asked me to pass it on to editor Vivienne Kelly.

Which is more than you did when you wrote this piece a few weeks back:

You did not contact me to check the facts re Campaign Brief, and even when I replied on your comment thread, you still didn't change the story to reflect the truth.

As to your Adelaide story, I don't think anyone in the industry would agree with you. The two agencies merged to form an even bigger one.


Shame. said:

Mumbrella has contempt for the ad industry and profits from dragging it down.

Vitriolic comments aside, CB does the opposite.

Please keep callling out Mumbrellas BS CB.

You are our only hope.

Everyone could said:

Stop putting ads on mumbrella and stop reading it. And don't attend Mumbrella 360 or enter their awards. That way this sad publication will meet its sad ending.

Fight! Fight! Fight! said:

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Adelaide Fake News Checker said:

Tim, you should drop in to the merged agency CumminsHybrid, proudly part of the Cummins & Partners network. They really exist and are situated at 60 Halifax Street, Adelaide.

Charles said:

The comment from Shame is spot on. Mumbrella loathes the industry we all love and their bile actively discourages young people to join. Give them NOTHING. No press releases. No entries for their awards, like who wants to be named Mumbrella Agency of the Year? And do not give them money for their amateurish seminars. They are a fucking cancer that we must remove.

Remember said:

This is the so encouraging. Please don't let this feeling disappear. If everyone could boycott everything about Mumbrella, they will go under. Normally I'd feel terrible saying such a thing but watching these guys constantly slag off my friends and colleagues with lies, misinformation and hate, I'd be happy for them to be no more.

As if said:

Are you joking?! As if Mumbrella has a leg to stand on.

Hi said:

I quite like Mumbrella. It's a good read.

Mum's the word said:

I can't think of one positive thing Mumbo has said about any agency until they've bought him champagne, chocolates and season passes to the A-League.

He's an epic troll, bent on destroying a hard working close-knit community who just want to get along and do great things.

So many talented people are leaving our shores or worse our industry because they just can't take it anymore. They're sick of it. We work long hours, we work for far less than we used to and we get dumped on far more than we ever did in the past.

Like any parasite, he'll eventually kill the host. The negativity, bias against men, frequent calling-out of agencies for having a bit of fun or god-forbid just passing the mandatories for Cannes is toxic. Remember DDB's Rouse Hill times? It met the criteria. Crucified in one of hundreds of Mumbrella witch-hunts.

Then he goes on to praise totally sh*t work from agencies he thinks he's buddy-buddy with, or agencies that pay to be in his crappy directory listing.

Luckily for Melbourne they're not very active down here. Maybe that's why the work and the culture seems a lot better.

And nobody gives a f*ck about the mumbrella awards here. Thanks for calling him to account Sean & Michael, it's about bloody time.

Calling old writers said:

Any old writers want to create some articles that are of mUmbrella ilk / interest?

There must be hundreds of copywriters out of the game / wanting to be out of the game that could create far more insightful content than mumbrella.

We need a 'campaign' magazine equivalent in Australia. CB has the credentials. It's just missing all the other stuff adweek / campaign etc would normally write about.

AdNews and B&T could also join in on this. It could be good. Decent articles in support of our local industry that talk things up instead of ripping them apart.

Extraterrestrial IP address said:

Funny thing is only a week ago mumbrella posted the following article:

"How fake news can be good for brand engagement"

Maybe it is time to check the facts on that one too mumbo, I might be wrong but I don't reckon the audience is feeling engaged to your brand.

And by the way, you would never be invited to any conference hosted by Trump. He would call your website "a disaster".

Pete Grenfell said:

Much of what mumbrella brings to our industry is terrific – the Cannes scam story for example.

However their sometimes sensationalist and mischief making approach to stories and headlines does them, our industry and the people who work in it no favours at all. Like Sean, the agency I ran was ‘victim’ to a sensationalist and frankly incorrect story about the departure of a Creative Director. Despite the fact that I made a point of speaking to the journalist in person to provide a full and truthful update about what was happening.

I fully support Sean Cummins for raising this issue and bringing it to the forefront. I believe those at mumbrella would be well advised to learn a lesson or two from this situation. More than anything else, incidents like this undermine the many positive things that the publication offers.

Worried? said:

Mumbrella seem to have pushed the article off the page... is it still there or are they mildly worried enough to have taken it down?

The scourge of Australian advertising said:

Hopefully soon the umbrella will close on the gossip publication. mUmBRELLA has lost it's way, if it ever knew the way.

Personal attacks, agency attacks, client attacks. This is not journalism it's simply about creating lies to gain traffic.

I feel sorry for the reporter who has come in to a toxic environment where facts don't matter.

More bullshit should be called on this sensationalist BS.

Well done CB and Michael.

Humdrumbrella said:

The industry should boycott Mumberella. Aggressive, inaccurate and damaging the industries reputation

-G said:

Mumbrella is continuing to maintain a position as a stitch up publication.
Keep it up and no agency will ever give comment.
Right now, I wouldn't bother to return the call.

Off the page said:

Mmmm, Mumbrella has now moved the story off the front page area, probably because they know they yet again have been caught on the wrong side of the truth. It may be too late for the new editor to get Mumbo back some sort of cred with the real ad industry (as opposed to their nobody Twiteratti / social media supporters) before it's all over.

scarred CD said:

Clearly I'm not the only one who refuses to give Mumbrella anything on principle.

Press releases ignored, while others put them front and centre. New employees tucked away (or ignored) and clients upset with #alternativefacts reporting.

And they had the nerve to ask if I'd sit on panels or judge shows for them.

Works both ways Tim. Give >Take.

And Sean's right to be angry. How about contact him and ask him what's going on? Rather than report whatever you like and ask questions later.

Every click counts. said:

As clicks = revenue, I stopped giving Mumbrella my clicks a while back.

I said:

Tim asked.

Perspective said:

Look at the front pages of any good newspaper and you'll realise there are much more important things we need to spend our energy on.

hmmm said:

i think mumbrella need a getaway meeting where they realign their purpose as an industry news channel.

they do a lot of awesome content and reporting - cannes being one, but they cant seem to distinguish between personal and professional.

would the guardian ever start threatening commenters with exposing their IP, diss other titles for poor ratings or give their editor the platform to have a massive bitch about how he went to the cinema and the staff were rude to him? No. because they are above that shit.

detach yourself tim, have a stance but focus on the story, not your version of it.

Pot-kettle-black said:

Ha!! Did Mumbo approach those ad agencies for comment over the last year before they slandered them as sexist? Pot. Kettle. Black. The industry is sick of your sloppy reporting. Thanks Michael & Campaign Brief for telling it like it is! I call boycott on these pack of fools.

I remember Tim from his Campaign Middle East days said:

He ran a rubbish ad rag in Dubai and he's running one here too.

More Fake News said:

What about this Mumbo beatup last month, that referred to 2 years out of date research! And they didn't even bother to consult the author of the thesis, creative veteran Paul Priday or M&C Saatchi and McCann:

I heart Manbrella said:

To all at Manbrella,
Please, please ignore all the comments. You shouldn't be here. This blog is not for you.
Continue doing what you do best! Bravo.

To everyone else,
Shame on you! Don't discourage them. Where else am I going to get my daily industry funnies from? At first their misguided bad reporting, slander and one eyed views was hard to stomach. But now everyone knows they are the Onion of the industry.

The smugness of thinking it's clever to snipe at agencies with partial - or in some cases, no - real understanding of the topic being discussed is a misguided attitude.

Christmas Cheer said:

Actually the Mumbrella team's finest slap in the face (and to M&C yet again) was the ol invite us to your Xmas party so we can slag you all in our trashy rag the next day. Oh but don't worry, we'll give you a chance to issue an apology after, just so we can then slag you some more. Classy stuff.

Revisiting the original article now I see they've also managed to slander M&C's leadership team in the URL too. Particularly insidious to link "mc-saatchi-jaimes-leggett-tom-dery-mcfarlane" with "sexism-advertising" just to boost their SEO:

Lynchy maybe a follow up article is warranted with the keywords in the URL "Tim-burrows-shoddy-nasty-unprofessional-clickbait-slanderous-gotcha-trashy-tabloid-(non)journalism"

Fact Checker said:

Perhaps some preferential treatment for the big boys like WPP who provides lots of clicks and ticket sales?

Headline of the day today on Mumbrella was "Landor and Designworks set to merge under the Landor brand". Should that have been "WPP slams door shut on Designworks, closing office and rolling dregs into Landor"?

Seems more like advertorial than editorial.

Not nice said:

I'm no fan of Sean Cummins, but he doesn't deserve the crap mumbrella has served up as 'journalism'. Mind you, mumbrella lost me after the hatchet job they did on Tom and Tom after the M&C Xmas Party. Create an issue - fan the flames - then bring out Cindy Gallop and make a bit of coin out of it just for good measure. How I would love to get a copy of the shot of the Mumbrella male journo at the M&C party, looking 'lovingly' at the burlesque trapeze artist just prior to mumbrella expressing their disgust at the artist's performance. Talk about hypocrisy. (Kind of like the hypocrisy of those who damn M&C as a boy's club one minute and then praise Dita Von Teese as a symbol of female empowerment the next).
PS. Michael, if you can find the Mumbo journo pic and publish it I'll donate $1k to a charity of CB's choosing. Anyone like to join me? $1k, or $1, it's all the same. C'mon Michael, let's see if we can create some good out of this disgusting mess.

Not nice said:

Dear 'There he is said',
Thank you, thank you, thank you.That's priceless.
Talk about a picture saying a thousand words!
Deal's a deal Michael. Nominate your charity.

L said:

They drop bombs on the innocent and love seeing their targets scramble to clean up the aftermath. All this while defending their decision behind their laptops.
Seems like they are in desperate need of new leadership.

Mumbrella, more like dumbrella. Amiright? said:


I was there said:

Wonder if the Mumbrella journalist who is staring up 'admiringly' at the scantily clad trapeze artist knew it was a bloke? I was standing a metre from him when that shot was taken. It was around midnight. Offended and affronted as he may have been he stayed at the party for a very long time.
But hey the drinks were free!
What a bunch of grubs.

The joke. said:

So Mumbrella has said to CB to not go after his staff? (Not that CB has) Last time I checked.. and it's a weekly occurrence now, Tim and Mumbrella go after individuals all the time. With aggressive, illl-reported, industry and career bashing headlines. All for his and Mumbrella's self-interest and financial gain.

Fair is fair said:

Sorry Mumbrella, but you've broken all the rules when it comes to going after individual staff members. It's what you do all the time.
I've witnessed first hand one of your attacks on an individual bringing that person to tears. It was brutal and unwarranted.
I feel for Zoe but you need to practice what you preach.
And your constant threat to expose IP addresses and the fact that you look these up is again an example of your pursuit on individuals.

@Tim said:

Tim, I'm surprised you would comment to Michael that "It’s disappointing that you wouldn’t approach a member of the Mumbrella management team for comment prior to publication ..." when you daily subject so many people to this very same lack of professionalism and common courtesy. You certainly didn't give M&C the opportunity to comment before trashing the M&C name yet again with your "subordinating women" tell all. Nor any of the staff you quoted in it, even though all were readily identifiable to all who know them. You didn't even bother contacting the study author for comment. Quite an incredible lack of professionalism l'd say for such an explosive piece.

And yet you try to lecture Michael on "good journalistic practice". Hate to break it to you mate but you're no journalist, and it's you who needs to practice the kind of common courtesy you demand from others, even if you are just a blogger. Especially if you're going to act so hurt when it happens to you. (Although to Michael's credit he at least tried to contact you before running this piece).

Fortunately for us all, our defamation laws here in Australia provide protection from the kind of reputation-shattering barbs that Mumbrella is now becoming so proficient in. If you haven't already crossed this legal line, it's only a matter of time. And whoever it is that finally manages to pull you back into line or even cripple you financially will have the full support of this great industry behind them.

Boosted said:

Why are you spending money to promote this article on Facebook, campaign brief?
That seems like your marketing strategy is to devalue on the competition, not to support and develop the industry, nor take a leadership position in your own journalism.
I'm not saying mumbrella's reporting was right, but I don't think trying to profit by kicking the competition is right either.

It's not the 90s said:

@Boosted - Blimey, you must be an old timer. I would have thought Facebook and Twitter has played an essential role in the ad trade press - or any business - since you retired.

We put the U in CNT said:

Time's up for mUmbo. No amount of 'journalistic privilege' can cover the repeated slanderous articles which actually damage people's business and reputation. I wouldn't be surprised if a well known lawyer offers their fees for a percentage of losses claimed against this piece-of-shit publication.

Slanging match said:

Wow, talk about airing your dirty laundry! Slow news day?

Groucho said:

@ Slanging match : possibly the only well thought out, reasoned, and mature comment on this thread. What a sad example of the spoilt, childish losers who infest the industry and ruin it's reputation for those who bothered to educate themselves, wroite coherently, and apply some critical reasoning to their working lives. I'm all in favour of anonymity but perhaps commenters could leave the names of their agencies so clients who want to deal with grown ups know which ones to avoid. I used to wonder where the monkeys who used to fling shit at the zoo ended up..........

Wroite, Groucho? said:

So which agency, if any, are you from, anonymous Groucho?
Perhaps you're from Mumbrella?

One thing's for sure, you're not a copywriter:
its reputation, not it's reputation,
write, not wroite.

@Wroite, Groucho? said:

Groucho is not from Mumbrella.

He is not a copywriter.

That slims down the field a bit for you.

Groucho said:

@wroite Groucho so a dodgy connection let through a typo. Big deal. In typical monkey fashion you avoid the issue and attack a spelling error. The sort of quality comment I was alluding to. Thanks for supporting my proposition, even if you didn't mean to. And as for the 'perhaps you're from Mumbrella' last time I heard that sort of puerile comment was in a schoolyard many years ago.

Pitch Doctor said:

@Wroite the words petty, prick, and puerile come to mind.
Can't think why.

CB said:

Not Nice (a very high profile agency owner and CD) made contact with CB this afternoon to confirm he will indeed donate $1,000 to charity. (See comment from Not Nice above.)

If anyone has a charity suggestion, leave a comment or email Lynchy.

How about? said:

iManifest... getting more underprivileged kids into the industry. Male or female. Good cause.

As an IBS sufferer who has had to run out of several presentations... said:

I nominate The Gut Foundation:

Dean Archer said:

@not nice

He just looks like he is looking at it.

rocky ranallo said:

I hardly ever visit this site anymore but came on here to see if there was a Obit for Don Farrow who passed away last week. All I got was the same old childish sniping by people who are too gutless to put their name to their comments. (not you Candide your'e an adult.).
Vale Don.

Dan Magill said:

Why can't everyone be sad about Don instead of discussing the topic at hand already? Stop what you're doing and be sad about Don you callous bastards - that includes you Cummins and Burrowes. Didn't know him? That's no excuse for being snipey... snippy? Anyway, grow up and put your REAL names like us adults always do online in 2017 or I'll tell your parents you're all gutless wonders and then you will be, like, totally suffering in your jocks.

To the Top said:

Any updates CB? Would hate to see this one drop off the front page. Although I guess Mumbrella would. Maybe that donation thing is worthy of sending it back to the top again?

Scumbrella said:


Check and check mate said:

Oh the irony of it all!
An industry that specialises in Communication, has to call out a communication platform to check its communication about an agency aiming to communicate its new communication headquarters!

Even more ironic said:

Would you believe, this is the latest article on Mumbrella:

Take note of that Mumbo.

curious said:

where does Simon Canning sit in all this?I remember when he had his Adbrief newsletter thing and was a great supporter of the industry.Is he now on staff at Mumbrella?

Scumbrella said:

I think the name says it all.

Not curious said:

Um hate to break the news Curious but Simon isn't like the old Simon any more.
He kind of changed some how along the journey.Not sure why.Bit sad really.My grandfather once used an expression that I didn't understand as a kid-'lie down with dogs and you get fleas'.
Think I know where he was coming from now..

Stan said:


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