Call me sad if you like, but I feel it incumbent on myself to be
familiar with the name of every agency or media buyer worth its salt.
And so it was last week that, doing a spot of proof-reading about the
media shops lining up for the ITV account, I came across a reference to
‘the Network’. Naturally, I assumed that we’d got our wires crossed. How
could it be, I wanted to know, that the ITV Network Centre was pitching
for its own business?
Silly me. Of course, as we all know (or should), ‘the Network’ is the
new operational name for the entire Ogilvy and Mather European media
But hold on a moment. In an age of huge agency and media shop over-
supply, here we have a group willingly throwing out one of the best-
known brand names in the business. And for what? For something utterly
meaningless and anodyne. And it doesn’t even mention the word ‘media’,
which seems to me a bit of an oversight. But, according to David
Baldwin, erstwhile media general manager at Ogilvy Europe, ‘the
Network’s positioning, name and perceived separation from the agency is
an overt demonstration of Ogilvy’s commitment to media’. Come again?
Still, if you believe that, you’ll believe the Bosnian Serbs when they
say their troops are only keeping the peace.
But there’s more. According to the Network itself, the name was chosen
for several positive reasons. One, they wanted a name that genuinely
summed up their unique offering - ie, a network. Hmm, well, that seems a
bit weak, not to mention dismissive of the competition. Two, the
letterhead is sub-branded ‘the Ogilvy and Mather media company’. So why
couldn’t it go with that? Three, the word ‘network’ connotes whizzy
media things like TV and computers. True, but so does ‘box’ or ‘screen’.
Four - and I’m just about with them on this one - it’s better than names
like Motive (apparently chosen in the pub) and Mediapolis ( pronounced
here as Mediapolice). But that doesn’t make it good. Hey, it even makes
Cordiant look sensible.
All this may seem trivial, except when you consider that we are heading
towards a time when having a global media offering has never been more
important. Of the global agency networks, Ogilvy is right up there in
the top three. But it has never made as much of this positioning in
media as it ought and, by opting now for another brand name, it is
throwing away a heaven-sent opportunity to steal a march on the
To my mind, the new set-up is also confusing in the context of Ogilvy’s
membership of the Media Partnership buying club. But then maybe, since
TMP is sometimes viewed as a political hot potato, that’s the point. Can
you imagine trying to explain it all to clients like IBM and Ford that
use one name around the world?
Still, they can always buy some ads to explain it all, so I have put our
eager sales staff on the alert. They are, as always, anxious to please.