OPINION: Lowes media says that service, not size, is key

Few people will have been surprised by the news that Lowe Howard-Spink is to hive off its in-house media department as a standalone media specialist (Campaign, last week). Not only have details about the move leaked out over the past few months, but Lowes has increasingly been marginalised in the modern media market.

Few people will have been surprised by the news that Lowe Howard-Spink

is to hive off its in-house media department as a standalone media

specialist (Campaign, last week). Not only have details about the move

leaked out over the past few months, but Lowes has increasingly been

marginalised in the modern media market.



The agency’s media department, lauded in the 80s for being creative and

quality-led, has been overtaken in the image wars by the modern media

specialist, where claims of creative and strategic planning prowess have

been skilfully grafted to the old blunt buying approach.



What the birth of Western International Media Europe also means, of

course, is that there are now only four agencies wearing a full-service

badge in the UK market. If Lowes has left it a little late, what hope

for the others?



It’s easy to see these faithful four - J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett,

BMP DDB and WCRS - as the dinosaurs of the pack, were it not for the

fact that they all manage to run pretty good businesses on the back of

their full-service status. BMP, in particular, is a formidable

competitor to the best of the specialists.



Clearly these agencies and their full-service clients believe there is

still room in the market for a one-stop shop and it’s time they began to

capitalise on their strength. After all, what really matters in media is

what you do, not whether your offering is full-service, dependant,

independent or whatever.



At a time when creative agencies are recognising the need for a media

voice in-house (the Network’s Rhona Tridgell joining Foote Cone Belding,

for example), full-service agencies should market their in-house media

departments to the hilt. Unless, of course, they’re still only in-house

because they’ve taken their eye off the ball. Or, in JWT’s case, because

Martin Sorrell has not had his way yet.



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