CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE - Two global media groups may mean trouble is doubled

When Campaign revealed Martin Sorrell’s plans for MindShare in 1997, there was a wailing and gnashing of teeth, the like of which had not been seen since ... well, since the Saatchis launched Zenith in the UK a decade earlier. There was understandable panic among J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather’s media departments, where most staff did not know about the plans, and many who did objected. Today, there is still resistance in the US, particularly at Ogilvy, which is why MindShare is still not fully formed.

When Campaign revealed Martin Sorrell’s plans for MindShare in

1997, there was a wailing and gnashing of teeth, the like of which had

not been seen since ... well, since the Saatchis launched Zenith in the

UK a decade earlier. There was understandable panic among J. Walter

Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather’s media departments, where most staff did

not know about the plans, and many who did objected. Today, there is

still resistance in the US, particularly at Ogilvy, which is why

MindShare is still not fully formed.



This week, Omnicom unveiled not one but two global networks: Optimum

Media Direction and PHD. The news came hot on the heels of BDM’s

decision to pool Starcom and MediaVest, and Interpublic Group’s

re-christening of Initiative. The new world order is plain to see. And

the major advertising groups must accept they now face years of

in-fighting.



The issue is media planning. OMD should be congratulated if it really

can retain ostensibly conflicting clients such as Apple and Compaq,

McDonald’s and Taco Bell. The alternative for a buying client who can’t

accept ’firewalls’ is to cut off its own nose to spite its face. The

connection between volume and media buying discount clout is

indisputable - the adland definition of which is: enough important

clients have bought the argument to make it redundant. But in the US,

where those big numbers keep rolling along, major media buyers already

had enough clout to make a difference. As we have observed before:

clients beware, you can’t all be getting a discount off an average

price.



Media planning is ’the creative of the future’, Campaign used to say

when we lived in the past. Omnicom made it clear the group’s media

planning employees will stay with their agencies. Everyone wants the

media planning.



It’s understandable, but the issue cannot be fudged, because that way

future conflict lies.



It’s fascinating to contemplate a new global PHD network (only a

surprise to anyone who doesn’t know David Pattison) with media planning

handled by creative agencies. I’m sure I’m just being facetious by even

mentioning it; that that’s not really what will happen, and that the

very clever Mr Pattison has got that issue sorted already - but how else

should we read it?



What is the PHD brand without its planning? Of course, it will say it

won’t be without its planning. If so, why do the creative agencies need

all those media planners? ’I’ll get my media planners to call your media

planners’ is a painful future scenario. It’s expressed glibly, but it’s

a serious point. I’m not sure I have the answer, beyond making the

brutal choice that will upset one side or the other. But then I’m not a

global media entrepreneur being paid the big bucks to sort it out.



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