PAWL Cubbin, Canberra’s best known advertising man, has died suddenly. He was 57.
“When I started in the industry, Pawl Cubbin and Zoo were the benchmark,” says Jamie Wilson, friend and founding director of competing agency Coordinate. “He was passionate, intelligent and creative
“He was a pioneer of the advertising industry in Canberra and has left an indelible mark.”
Describing it as one of the saddest days of his life, former Zoo Group chairman Roger Smeed said he had known Pawl Cubbin for nearly 30 years.
“He was the most talented graphic designer I’d ever met,” says Smeed. “He was always full of enthusiasm with an unbelievable work ethic.
“But he had talent in more than advertising and graphic design. He was a very successful owner of restaurants and an outstandingly successful property developer, whose roots were always in Canberra.
“People who worked for him loved him and he returned it in spades. I send my heartfelt sympathy to all his family.”
Another colleague, James Willson, founder of the Cre8tive agency, who had known Pawl for 15 years, said “he always lifted the bar and was always a fair competitor”.
He recalled that Cubbin had been the “brainchild” behind the start of the regional airline Rex. He had seen the need for a service dedicated to regional Australia, found the investors and got the concept literally off the ground. Rex was later sold to Singapore Airlines.
“He was good for the advertising industry, constantly challenging the status quo and ideals,” said Willson. “I liked him very much.”
Earlier this month Cubbin shocked the local media industry by announcing the closure his 20-year Canberra agency Zoo. It was the foundation agency that spawned outposts in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore.
Last week Cubbin told me the Canberra agency’s clients had been advised that that Zoo would close its doors in Kingston on Friday, May 4.
He described the decision to close as a strategic one that reflected the changing profile of businesses in Canberra.
Despite the Canberra setback, Cubbin said he planned to progress the Zoo brand in Sydney, Singapore and other places.
However, on Friday (April 20) the national trade magazine “AdNews” reported that the Zoo Group’s Sydney office had entered into liquidation in February. The Melbourne office also entered into liquidation in November.
Describing himself to “Ad News” as an “honest guy” and a “straight shooter”, he told the publication: “We’re not hiding anything. I unashamedly put Melbourne and Sydney into administration because it was the right thing to do.
“I’ve done some good things and things that haven’t gone well, but I’m not going to disappear from the industry.”
AdNews reports that ex-Zoo employees had contacted the publication complaining they were owed money, but Cubbin said neither Sydney, Melbourne nor Canberra had a lot of debt.
His passing coincided with the closure of one of his property and hospitality investments, Academy nightclub, in Civic last night (April 21).