Clinging to a Euston street corner one night last week in slashing
rain, hunting for an empty cab that didn’t exist, any warm feelings I’d
had about the new MediaCom TMB began to ebb away.
I’ve been to some pretty vile media offices in my time (MediaCom’s
Livonia Street headquarters among them) and MediaCom TMB’s new building
north of Euston is actually one of the better ones - plenty of space,
with an open, airy feel and the increasingly ubiquitous company caff.
There’s even an airport-like lounge for passing clients who need a place
to rest their laptop and well-lunched gut between meetings. And I’m sure
the area itself is not as grim in daylight.
But the bleakness of Euston is not the real challenge MediaCom TMB will
face as it prepares to unite staff from MediaCom and the Media Business
under one roof next week. A stiffer task will be to create a personality
for the new company which lives up to the spirit of the new building and
overshadows its location. Anyone familiar with MediaCom or the Media
Business will realise what a challenge that is.
The new agency announced its management line-up last week, minus two of
MediaCom’s few famous names - Bill Jones and Mark Brown. The new board
takes the best of what’s left of both companies and recognises the
strengths of the home-grown talent. And talent there surely is at both
agencies, since each has a record of producing good work. If Andy
Troullides, Steve Allan and Allan Rich are right about the new team and
company spirit, bushels will be bulldozed and lights hitherto hidden
will burn bright.
Ask, though, what the new company stands for, what proposition will set
it aside from established rivals, and I’m at a loss. For me the Media
Business had been distinguished by its record on client retention,
evidence - in the absence of too much else - that this was a very solid
The business losses of the past 12 months have eradicated this USP.
MediaCom, on the other hand, has always been an agency known for its
expertise in big fmcg business, but that’s too one-dimensional a tag for
a modern media brand.
As a merged operation, MediaCom TMB is a wisp of fog waiting to take
shape. As such, it will prove an interesting millennial case study in
whether there are any gaps left in the media market and how to fill
Will the MediaCom network have the foresight to see the pounds 28
million it paid for the Media Business Group as the first instalment in
its investment in the UK office? Will Procter & Gamble, a key MediaCom
client, be happy with the departure of Bill Jones and the new agency
structure? And, as always, new business will prove key. Can the new
operation succeed in persuading VAG, which recently appointed MediaCom
in Germany, to do the same in the UK?
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