MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Young & Rubicam seeks edge in the global media race

At a time when the American agency giants have finally woken up and smelt the skinny decaff cappuccino, new media manoeuvres on a global scale are about as rare as a blushing Clinton.

At a time when the American agency giants have finally woken up and

smelt the skinny decaff cappuccino, new media manoeuvres on a global

scale are about as rare as a blushing Clinton.

This week Young & Rubicam joined the throng and announced that it is to

launch its US media brand, the Media Edge, around the world -

establishing a new global media network with billings of about dollars 9


And the news was about as surprising as the Liam and Patsy split. Y&R’s

writing was on the wall as soon as the company announced it had poached

Paul Woolmington from Ammarati Puris Lintas to be its worldwide media

chief. You don’t buy a Shearer and put him in goal as the cliche


Woolmington, you may remember, was once a tender UK media buck who has

done rather well for himself on the international stage (now fully

equipped with a transatlantic drawl and a mouthfull of US marketing


Y&R, realising ahead of several key competitors that media would become

a major issue, drafted in Woollie almost a year ago and handed him the

task of sorting out what was a quagmire of confusion masquerading as a

grown-up international media service - a description which should be

familiar to many other so-called global media networks. In Europe, for

example, there’s Y&R Media and Mediapolis (a fraught joint venture with

Havas), as well as full-service media teams. Hardly the stuff clear

brand identities are made of.

But now that the Media Edge’s bells and whistles have been thoroughly

polished, has Y&R come up with a solution capable of meeting the

challenges of international media management?

In truth, Y&R has probably been guilty of a crime which is converse to

the media norm. As an agency with more than its fair share of major

international clients, Y&R already has a global media approach.

It’s just been successfully hidden under a myriad of different names,

patchy joint ventures pretending to be fully fledged networks and

in-house, unbranded media operations. Other agencies affect a coherent

brand and a global solution by employing uniform letterheads around the

world and not much else.

So the foundations for the Media Edge are solid enough. Where Y&R is

trying to take the game on, though, is with an approach which fully

recognises its media brand as the centre for all the agency’s media

services. None of this duplication of resources from one group company

to the next (Woolmington’s old home, Lintas, take note), and none of the

politics and territorialism that frustrate so many media companies whose

parent doesn’t have an umbrella vision and direction.

That’s the idea, anyway. But there’s so much bullshit talked about

global media brands, Y&R’s old puffs for Mediapolis being just one

example, that all claims should be approached with extreme caution.


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