MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE; Why ‘the Network’ doesn’t do O&M’s profile any justice

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.

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

operation.



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

competition.



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.