Media Perspective: The Starcom Motive name is dead but its spirit must live on

Mark Cranmer's decision to drop the Motive name from his Starcom UK agency brings down the curtain on one of our most revered media brands.

As the media department of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Motive launched with some impressive talent and an impeccable bloodline. But the agency did not depend on what could be seen as its birthright - instead, Motive carved out its own niche based on cutting-edge media planning and exceptional media creativity.

As well as garnering genuine respect, Motive has continued to be an enduring force on the UK media scene. This is despite having undergone numerous ownership changes, which could have threatened to leave it looking bastardised, as it evolved into part of a global media network.

After merging with Leo Burnett in 2000 to create Starcom Motive and then with MediaVest in 2002 following the Publicis acquisition of Bcom3, the pioneering culture that caused such a stir when Motive launched has seemed a consistent theme, no doubt nurtured by Cranmer himself.

Therefore, the decision to erase the Motive moniker from the agency he created must have been an emotionally difficult one for Cranmer to make.

It seems timely, though, as Publicis presses on with its plans to develop its Starcom media offering through the creation of the Publicis Media Group. PMG was launched to look at the best way to exploit Publicis' Starcom and ZenithOptimedia assets.

Over recent months, weaknesses in Starcom's network have become only too apparent, with the agency missing out in far too many European pitches, including Lego, Heinz and Kia Cars. Depending on what solutions it comes up with, PMG has the potential to remedy this by providing Starcom with some much-needed scale across Europe that can help it to compete in the age of the global pitch.

For this to happen, it is necessary for a clearer network structure to be put in place. The fact that there appeared to be two Starcoms in the UK - Mediavest and Motive - was always a little confusing, particularly given that the Starcom Motive office served as the headquarters of a network that didn't even share its name.

The UK, which is the strongest part of the EMEA region, needs to act as the blueprint for the rest of the region and it can only do this if it shares the same name. Regrettably, this means the long-respected Motive name must be dropped to provide some sort of clarity and coherence and put distance between Starcom and its former owner BBH.

With media agencies' success now dependent on the strength of their networks, Motive has been consigned to advertising history. It is crucial, though, that the ethos and culture of the old agency lives on in Starcom's network.

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