Five months ago it was bad news for Leo Burnett’s UK media
A deal with the MacManus group’s Mediavest was in ruins amid reports of
rifts in the higher echelons of the company.
The merger would have created a pounds 485 million powerbase in the UK
media market and a strong platform for the development of an
international media network. But it wasn’t to be.
In response to last year’s setback, the Chicago-based network has
announced that Starcom, Burnett’s US media outfit, is to become a global
media brand (Campaign, last week). From now on, all Burnett’s media
divisions worldwide will adopt the Starcom name and operating model and
will have access to an intranet system linking every office around the
’We were never interested in just changing the name of our media arm,’
Bob Brennan, Starcom’s chief operating officer, says. ’We have created a
truly separate company where the management and financial structure is
independent of the main agency. This will allow us to invest in the new
product and measure its return.’
Brennan is unconcerned that critics will consider this Starcom to be a
poor shadow of the Starcom that Burnett’s really wanted from the
’Starcom is better off without the MacManus group. If we had merged with
them I don’t necessarily think we would have put a better product into
the market. Scale isn’t everything,’ he says.
All Burnett’s client information will now be pooled on a single
Staff will be able to call up the ratings trends of a particular TV
channel from their desks. ’This is what will drive best practice,’
’People will be able to access knowledge of the UK market and then apply
it elsewhere, thus breaking down regional and national boundaries.’
The new technology has led to a ’paperless and digital workplace’,
Brennan proclaims. Internal memos are forbidden and Brennan will only
communicate with people via e-mail.
It has also meant fewer staff.
’We have been able to eliminate a lot of our secretarial support. In the
US we have gone from 500 secretaries to 25 administration assistants,’
Starcom launches with billings of pounds 145 million and a position just
outside the top 15 in the UK media league table. Its main clients are
Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s and United Biscuits.
Brennan is predicting new-business gains and growth from existing
clients to the tune of dollars 10 billion over the next two years and is
looking for a European chief to galvanise business on this side of the
Atlantic. With a shortlist of three in place, he hopes to make an
appointment in the next few months.
The launch of Starcom also marks the end of any merger talks. ’We have
decided that the way forward is for Leo Burnett to have full control of
its media operations,’ Brennan states. ’We will be thinking of