Fans of my column and those who find that it whiles away a few
minutes on the loo may remember that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about
how Starcom and MediaVest really should consider a UK merger now that
their parent companies are wedded under the BDM banner; the new media
agency would immediately race to the top end of the league table and
give everyone else something to chew their nails over.
Well what do I know? Starcom obviously completely disagrees and has
plumped instead for a merger with its step-sister, Motive. The two have
already got cosy, divvied up the management roles between them and are
well on the road to deciding who gets the biggest offices.
The thinking behind the deal is based on strategic fit and goes
something like this: Motive has carved an enviable reputation as the
thinking clients’ media operation, with a proposition based on
cutting-edge planning and across-the-board creativity. (Completely
stealing the show at this year’s Campaign Media Awards would suggest
they’re walking the walk, too.)
Starcom, admittedly barely out of the birth canal, has similar
aspirations, founded on a close association with the creative process
and bloody good credentials behind the brand name in the US.
Put the two together and you’ve got a top five media agency with some
pretty juicy accounts (Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Levi’s) and some
You’ve got to hand it to Mark Cranmer, who must have been grinding away
behind the scenes to breathe life into the merger. After all, don’t
forget that Motive and Leo Burnett’s media were meant to merge 18 months
ago but, by all accounts, the two didn’t quite hit it off. To go from
this to happy partnership will have required some bridge-building and a
willingness to focus on business benefits rather than personal
But I must admit to some sympathy for MediaVest, for which this is
probably the worst of all scenarios. MediaVest spent most of last year
trying to forge a deal with Burnett’s media but saw its efforts crumble
at the eleventh hour when the duo’s parents failed to make it happen in
It must be particularly galling when MediaVest has been driving for a
stronger global network, only to see it finally take shape under a brand
name of which it will have no part (and which makes something of a
mockery of the MediaVest Worldwide name which it so optimistically
adopted last year).
In the week that Carlton and United News & Media merged to create a new
media-owner titan, it still seems to me like a wasted opportunity to
eschew the creation of a new media communications giant to match such
And I’ll be sorry to see the demise of the Motive name, which remains
one of the few media brands to have real class. The new Starcom, though,
will undoubtedly be the agency to watch next year.
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