PERSPECTIVE: Allmond win dents super-league hold on media industry

I blame MindShare. Ever since Martin Sorrell announced he was merging the media operations of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather around the world into an international superpower, globalisation has become the touchstone of the media industry. There’s no doubt that media is now an international game. Where once an international job meant the slip lane to retirement, now it can mean sitting at the axis of power, orchestrating world domination.

I blame MindShare. Ever since Martin Sorrell announced he was

merging the media operations of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather

around the world into an international superpower, globalisation has

become the touchstone of the media industry. There’s no doubt that media

is now an international game. Where once an international job meant the

slip lane to retirement, now it can mean sitting at the axis of power,

orchestrating world domination.



I’ve trotted out the cliches with the worst of them - MindShare will be

’a catalyst for change’, creating ’a domino effect’ which will result in

consolidation among the advertising super-league. Scrape away the

hyperbole, though, and contraction remains inevitable.



Sadly, too, the triumphs of UK media professionals in first recognising

media as a viable business in its own right, and then as a viable

pan-European business, count for little when the power-brokers sit in

the US. Many is the eminent and seasoned UK media boss who now finds him

or herself in the hands of US media chiefs who know as much about media

as a business as a two-year-old media exec in a London independent.



How satisfying, then, to see the Allmond Partnership emerge as a major

force on the UK media scene. Hardly an industry mover-and-shaker or a

face to watch, Allmond hasn’t been earmarked for media-barondom since

his days as a tender trainee. But his coup last week in snaffling the

pounds 110 million BT television buying account proves that people still

matter.



Conspiracy theorists will already have lined up their arguments to

rationalise what was, despite Allmond’s 13-year history with BT, a

startling decision.



Cynicism may be a prerequisite in my job but I prefer to think that

Allmond’s track record on the business, his loyalty to the client over

the years and his professional approach to the pitch won the day.

Although I’m all for sacrificing the individual to the greater (global)

business good, it’s edifying to see that there’s still room in this

business for the entrepreneur who knows his stuff.



Of course, Allmond has the backing of MGM, which has the backing of

Omnicom, a nifty little dollars 7 billion international communications

company. And I doubt BT would have been allowed, yet alone happy, to

hand its prestigious account over to a one-man band. But Allmond has

staked his fortunes on this business, and that’s one way to ensure

commitment.



Allmond, too, is adamant that he will be rewarding his staff through

equity in the company, thus securing their loyalty and a passion that

the employee whose livelihood is determined by faceless suits on the

other side of the Atlantic lacks. BT’s decision last week proves two

things: the media entrepreneur isn’t dead, just these days needs the

help of a major brand with sizeable resource behind it. Second,

amorphous global networks ignore the importance of their people at their

peril.



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