PERSPECTIVE: Difficult business of saying who’s who in global super league

What started as a daft piece in The Mail on Sunday about the possibility of M&C Saatchi acquiring Saatchi & Saatchi (this column isn’t long enough to list the reasons why not) has snowballed into a series of articles on merger mania in the agency world. As Campaign has been commenting on this for the past two years or more, it is hardly surprising to see such coverage. What remains mystifying is why there’s such huffing and puffing about it, both in public and private, from the heads of some of the agencies involved.

What started as a daft piece in The Mail on Sunday about the

possibility of M&C Saatchi acquiring Saatchi & Saatchi (this column

isn’t long enough to list the reasons why not) has snowballed into a

series of articles on merger mania in the agency world. As Campaign has

been commenting on this for the past two years or more, it is hardly

surprising to see such coverage. What remains mystifying is why there’s

such huffing and puffing about it, both in public and private, from the

heads of some of the agencies involved.



Here’s what’s commonly regarded as the hit-list (in alphabetical order):

Cordiant, Grey, Havas, Leo Burnett, MacManus, Publicis, Saatchi &

Saatchi, True North, Young & Rubicam. To which I’d add Aegis, Hakuhodo,

Zenith and several smaller Japanese agencies (great bargains at the

moment).



Although some of the above may in the short to mid-term acquire one

another or merge, in the longer term the buyers are likely to be Dentsu,

Interpublic Group, Omnicom, WPP and possibly Young & Rubicam or Leo

Burnett. The last two appear on both lists, partly because they are on

the cusp in terms of size, and partly through affiliation with Dentsu -

whose power should not be overlooked just because it has botched Europe

more than once.



This, the consensus has it, will become the global super league. And,

although several on the target list will bristle at being there, it is

difficult to see reasons why such a super league should not evolve.

Every time we write about the subject of Cordiant, for example, we are

privately disparaged and another postage stamp is dispatched to all

staff with a list of the group’s global clients on the back. But, in

truth, the targets list is the inevitable result of advertising having

become a truly global business.



It’s not made up by Campaign, and no amount of huffing and puffing will

deter the likes of Heinz and other clients with genuinely global

aspirations from seeking the best possible global service. Rightly or

wrongly, this has involved putting flags on maps in the past. Today, it

means having a class act across the US, Europe and Asia - not just the

odd pockets of local talent.



Where networks are weak(er), it makes sense to acquire and fill in the

holes. It is bizarre to believe that advertising should somehow be

immune to such global business trends, particularly in the immediate

context of huge client deals such as BP Amoco and Arco, Ford and Volvo,

Renault and Nissan, and the inexorable consolidation of the financial

services sector.



This may at first glance appear to have little to do with the day-to-day

creation of advertising. And that’s true - until you try to get the work

signed off locally, or you suddenly find (see the Gillette story on the

front page) that you’ve lost your day-to-day account because of a

decision taken in Boston, Massachussetts.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).