Last year was not a vintage one for media agencies. The good simply
carried on being good, few saw dramatic change, America increasingly
drove the fate of some, while at home there were fewer new-business
opportunities to really shine. So the shortlist for media agency of the
year was, well, short.
However, a handful of media specialists did manage to stride forward and
one agency in particular can look back on 1999 as a watershed year.
MediaCom TMB actually began 1999 as two very different agencies,
stitched together at the close of the previous year but still clinging
to disparate cultures, philosophies and even offices. The purchase of
the Media Business by Grey’s MediaCom at the end of 1998 instantly
created a top five player, but one which might have struggled to raise
its game to meet its new status.
History already boasts a catalogue of difficult mergers, and media has
many of its own. Marrying MediaCom and TMB seemed set to distract the
new titan for quite some time. Time, however, was something the new
agency did not have. It was immediately pitched into what was to be the
biggest account review of the year - the pounds 80 million Volkswagen
MediaCom had wrested the business from Carat in the key German market,
and when the car giant began a UK review in February, the new MediaCom
TMB was widely tipped to take the business even before initial
presentations had taken place. The strength of the client relationship
in Germany undoubtedly played a part in the pitch but MediaCom TMB’s
triumph in winning the prestigious UK business so early in its
incarnation deserves credit.
Volkswagen may have been MediaCom TMB’s biggest win of the year, but it
was not the agency’s only new-business coup. Iceland’s pounds 12 million
account, pounds 5.5 million from IPC and pounds 4 million from Scottish
Telecom were among the pounds 110 million new-business tally.
Along the way the agency parted company with a few senior staff, most
notably Andy Troullides, the former managing director of MediaCom, but
his departure was amicable and there has been no sign of staff
The appointment of Jane Ratcliffe (far left) and Nick Lawson (far right)
as joint managing directors shored up the management of the London
agency, freeing the group managing director, Steve Allan (middle), and
the chairman, Allan Rich (bottom, far left), to concentrate on group
By the end of its first year in business, MediaCom TMB was much bigger
than the sum of its original parts. Its new-business record, its new
management line-up and its successful client retention over what could
have been a hazardous merger period are real triumphs of which the
agency can justifiably feel proud. There are, of course, still issues to
be addressed and challenges to be met, but in 1999 MediaCom TMB built
some solid foundations.
Zenith Media runs a close second, proving in 1999 that it is not just
the biggest media agency, but that it can cut a sharper strategic swathe
through the media world. Zenith clocked up an impressive list of wins,
with the pounds 60 million centralised broadcast account for Mars at its
Landing the Rover planning account without a pitch was quite a coup for
the agency’s strategic credentials, and despite its late arrival on to
the Littlewoods pitch, the agency grabbed the pounds 8 million
centralised media account. The loss of Schweppes to Universal McCann was
a blow and Tetley’s departure for MediaVest marred an otherwise good
Beefing up its credentials, Zenith launched its direct marketing arm,
Zed, at the beginning of last year and at the end of 1999 set up its
new-media arm, Zenith Interactive Solutions, with Amazon’s former
marketing director, Chris Ketley, at its helm.
An honourable mention should go to MindShare, which has cleaned up its
act following a lacklustre start in 1998. Simon Rees, MindShare’s
managing director, has directed the agency towards becoming a strong
player in the market. The agency has put in place a number of media
group heads, including Andy Zonfrillo as head of TV, Edward Lloyd-Barnes
as broadcast planning director and Simon Francis as head of planning.
Picking up the pounds 20 million Britvic Pepsi account in a hotly
contested pitch proved that the agency has become a force to be reckoned
Initiative Media is no stranger to Campaign’s media agency of the year
shortlist, and in 1999 proved itself another worthy contender. Over the
course of the year the agency carved a new specialism in technology
clients, setting up Initiative.com and scooping media business from
Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems and Mannesmann vdo. On the more
mainstream new-business side, wins included Calvin Klein Fashions, Del
Monte and National Magazines.
Motive also deserves a mention for its performance at the 1999 Campaign
Media Awards, scooping four of the prizes and the overall Grand
The accolades are testament to the agency’s stature as one of the best
strategic and creative media operations.
New PHD, which was Campaign’s media agency of the year last year,
managed to build on its strong track record of new-business wins. It has
widened its circle of media specialist groups with the addition of the
new-media consultancy, PHDiQ, and the joint venture with Edge Marketing
and Brand Science, an econometric modelling company.
Previous winners: New PHD (1998); Michaelides & Bednash (1997); TMD