CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: DECISION MAKER - JACK KLUES. Klues keeps his cool as BDM’s empire expands. The formation of the BDM group means a challenge for Starcom’s chairman, Stefano Hatfield writes

By STEFANO HATFIELD, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 17 December 1999 12:00AM

Jack Klues is on a roll. The amiable chairman of Starcom Worldwide has had a good year. He’s been made US Media Week’s media director of 1998, Starcom was voted best media agency by both Advertising Age and AdWeek and new-business wins include accounts such as Heinz.

Jack Klues is on a roll. The amiable chairman of Starcom Worldwide

has had a good year. He’s been made US Media Week’s media director of

1998, Starcom was voted best media agency by both Advertising Age and

AdWeek and new-business wins include accounts such as Heinz.



Then, on top of this, his parent company, Leo Burnett, stuns adland by

forming the BDM group with MacManus and Dentsu.



Klues and his partner, the chief operating officer, Bob Brennan, have

emerged as among the most powerful media buyers in the US market - and,

therefore, the world.



It all looked so unlikely last year when a proposed merger between the

then Leo Burnett media operation and MacManus’s TeleVest fell through

after a year of painful negotiations. Stories at the time blamed the

split on personal antipathy between Klues and Irwin Gotlieb, then boss

of TeleVest, now the man charged with launching MindShare in the US

marketplace. In fact, more than a touch simplistically, Gotlieb’s

departure has been viewed as the catalyst for the entire BDM deal. Is

life really that neat?



Klues dismisses the Gotlieb question: ’Philosophically, the two

organisations were at a different place last year.’ Gotlieb says the

same, albeit in a few more words.



Reading between the lines, the suggestion is of cultural and operational

differences between the juggernaut, TeleVest, and Starcom, with its

greater stress on planning.



Klues explains: ’Since that time, we have both evolved a shared vision

for the future of media. That vision is rooted in the importance and the

future of the strategic planning discipline, which - when married with a

powerful buying capability - produces the kind of results clients expect

from us.’



If that’s the case then might we expect the BDM deal to lead to its

logical conclusion - merging the Starcom and MediaVest operations

worldwide to create a new international buying powerhouse?



The noises emanating from Chicago on the subject are muffled. ’No

operating decisions will be made until after the (BDM) deal closes,’

Klues says.



’However, we will work closely with our new partners to determine what

is in our clients’ best interests, including a possible merger into a

single brand in many, if not most, markets.’



’Most’ probably does not include the US and the UK, although nothing is

certain. But why does scale matter so much? Surely the evolving new

major buyers (OMD, MindShare, Western Initiative, Universal) can all buy

as cheaply as each other in the US, just as in the UK not everyone can

be achieving discounts on station average price or there would not be an

’average’.



’Scale is especially important in that it provides a revenue stream that

allows for investment in superior people, systems and research,’ Klues

says. ’Once a company is in the top five, there’s very little

difference.’



It’s clear Klues feels that a buyer has to be in that top five.

Consequently, in London it seems that Motive, the former Bartle Bogle

Hegarty media operation, will be merged into Starcom.



Where this leaves MediaVest, currently by far the larger agency in the

UK marketplace, is unclear. Klues declines to comment on the subject

beyond acknowledging it is unlikely that there will be three brands.



It is also unlikely that Starcom will halt its international shopping

spree. That was the rationale for the proposed media merger last

year.



Europe - where Leo Burnett clung on to full-service status, and

MediaVest has struggled to establish a coherent network - is clearly a

big priority.



’We will continue to make strategic investments in the region,’ is all

Klues will say.



If he sounds rather cagey it’s partly because of the newsworthy timing

of our interview, and partly because BDM happened so quickly.



Klues, a big, friendly bear of a man, appears to be one of the more

human executives in global media buying. But you can’t help feeling that

he will have a much more taxing time melding the two media empires

together than his relaxed demeanour suggests.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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