EDITORIAL: IPG media tie-up keeps an eye on risk of conflict

The news that Interpublic Group is looking at pooling the media negotiations might of its three distinct media brands - Western, Initiative Media and Universal McCann - sent a few shockwaves through the media fraternity last week.

The news that Interpublic Group is looking at pooling the media

negotiations might of its three distinct media brands - Western,

Initiative Media and Universal McCann - sent a few shockwaves through

the media fraternity last week.



At a time when size and buying power are vital, when rival groups are

also marshalling their media muscle, it’s obvious that IPG should

consider how best to maximise its group resources. Where IPG is

determined to stand out from the pack, however, is in protecting the

saliency of its separate brands. Not for them the WPP MindShare model of

full merger. IPG appears to have identified some real advantages to

keeping its eggs in different baskets.



First, whatever the aspirations of the big agencies, client conflict is

sure to remain an issue for many advertisers for some time to come,

hence the wisdom of owning two or three separate media shops.



Second, as recent creative and media appointments by clients such as

National Savings (won separately but simultaneously by BMP DDB and BMP

Optimum) show, some advertisers still prefer a pseudo full-service

approach.



With Universal McCann offering the potential for a full-service media

solution and Western and Initiative catering for advertisers who want an

independent media agency, IPG has all bases covered.



Jeffrey Merrihue, Initiative’s European chief, describes the IPG

proposals as ’the holy grail of media’ - service exclusivity with the

efficiencies of combining volume where it counts.



The politics and practicalities of pooling negotiations and the

reluctance of major clients such as Unilever to sign are hurdles still

to be cleared, but as the media market continues to contract, the wisdom

of the manoeuvre is hard to argue with.



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