MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Tempus shows its US rivals how to run a global operation

For anyone whose horizons stretch no further than the London suburbs, the name CIA Medianetwork has been associated in recent years with shady trading problems, crippling account losses, senior management fallout and general disarray.

For anyone whose horizons stretch no further than the London

suburbs, the name CIA Medianetwork has been associated in recent years

with shady trading problems, crippling account losses, senior management

fallout and general disarray.



So last week’s annual results from CIA’s parent company, Tempus, may

have come as a surprise. Tempus posted profits up 40 per cent to pounds

13.2 million, has clawed its way into the top six media operations in

every major European market and has established footholds in the US and

Asia Pacific. As an international operation, Tempus is doing quite

nicely, thank you.



Not bad for home-grown talent. There aren’t many powerful British media

agencies on the global media stage, even though the UK boasts one of the

most sophisticated and experienced media industries.



Consider, though, the assumption that there will be only five or six

global media players within the next few years, and Tempus’s survival in

its current form seems unlikely. Tempus ain’t going to conquer the world

on its own and a strong presence in the US will be crucial if CIA is to

tempt European clients over the water.



So it’s not surprising that Tempus has been courting and courted by many

of the US communications groups, keen to match a US powerbase with a

strong and well-managed European network. Fair enough. But Tempus has

one asset beyond its existing network which the Americans would do well

to consider carefully: its international management expertise -

something many other networks are struggling to build.



Every week I hear gripes from UK media agencies frustrated by their US

paymasters. There seems to be genuine concern about quite how

well-equipped the Americans are to drive global media propositions.

According to my contacts, there’s a lack of understanding of the media

pressures facing Europe and little sense of urgency. All too often the

chest-puffing global launches of networks such as MediaVest, StarCom,

OMD, MindShare and Optimedia are little more than statements of intent.

Months, even years, after the official launch, there’s little to show

for some of these networks beyond a new letterhead, frustration,

bitterness and a growing sense of despair. And if you think that’s a bit

strong, you probably don’t work in media.



Of course, coherent, co-operative and well-organised global propositions

don’t materialise overnight. But for many UK agencies, the slow progress

and the ignorance of some US companies about the business of media in

Europe is becoming a real issue.



Tempus may be struggling in its UK homeland, but it has a genuine media

heritage, knows how to run a successful international media operation

and has real commitment to the industry. Not many of its rivals can

claim as much.



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