Media Lifeline: WPP's Maxus

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 February 2010 12:00AM

From being a fourth-string agency in Asia-Pacific to scooping the £75 million BT business.

October 2008: Maxus was launched as WPP's fourth-string media brand in the Asia-Pacific region in 2004. In 2008, WPP serves notice that it intends to build the agency into a credible worldwide network by appointing Group M's EMEA chief executive, Kelly Clark, as Maxus' global chief executive, based in New York. He's charged with identifying growth opportunities in markets such as the UK, where Maxus doesn't have a presence.

December 2008: Clark announces that the WPP-owned UK agency BJK&E will become Maxus' London office. Otherwise, there's little structural change, with BJK&E's joint managing directors, James Jennings and Tim Irwin, continuing to lead management.

February 2009: And the agency's underlying promise is illustrated in Nielsen figures for 2008, showing that Maxus increased its billings figures by 10 per cent to just over £52 million across the year. This helps cushion the blow in January of losing the £10 million Canon account following the client's consolidation of its international media agency roster. The agency is tipped by some observers as a rising "challenger brand".

July 2009: Maxus poaches Lindsay Weedon, a managing partner at PHD, to be its UK chief executive, with Jennings and Irwin reporting to her. She agrees to join in October - Clark asks her to establish a strong "beachhead" in the UK by winning big accounts.

February 2010: And BT isn't half bad to be going on with. Following protracted rumours that the company was becoming less-than-enamoured of its existing media agency arrangements, BT moves its £75 million business into Maxus without a pitch. The new contract, scheduled to start on 1 April, covers all media planning and buying except outdoor.

Fast forward ...

September 2011: When Group M announces that it is to rationalise the WPP media agency portfolio under a process dubbed "Project M", there's speculation that Maxus, as the most junior of the group's four media brands, will be the first to be subsumed. But it is rewarded for its continuing growth across 2010 by being named as one of the group's keystone media properties.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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