PERSPECTIVE: Seeing beyond the allure of the global media bandwagon

As anyone who hasn’t been living on Mars recently can tell you, the big network agency world has suddenly gone media bonkers. First we have Martin Sorrell grabbing every platform going to give us his view of the world (and putting his tanks on Chris Ingram’s lawn while he’s at it). Now we have Omnicom (Campaign, last week) trying to stitch up the mother of all deals involving BMP, New PHD and Manning Gottlieb.

As anyone who hasn’t been living on Mars recently can tell you, the

big network agency world has suddenly gone media bonkers. First we have

Martin Sorrell grabbing every platform going to give us his view of the

world (and putting his tanks on Chris Ingram’s lawn while he’s at it).

Now we have Omnicom (Campaign, last week) trying to stitch up the mother

of all deals involving BMP, New PHD and Manning Gottlieb.



On the sidelines, but in warming-up mode, sits Interpublic with a

three-card pack consisting of McCann/Universal, Western and Initiative

that it must shuffle. Yet to make their move - you can bet they won’t

sit idly by - are the likes of Leo Burnett, Young & Rubicam, Euro RSCG

and Publicis.



Then there is Zenith, the great imponderable, which will surely end up

as part of somebody’s empire. Nobody, but nobody, will want to be left

without a partner at the Media Summer Ball.



So, one way or another, it’s going to be a fun time for all, except

probably for the staff and the clients whose fates will be decided in

some smoke-filled room as part of a ’deal’.



If, dear reader, you detect a touch of cynicism, you’re right. For many

of the big global agencies, one suspects, media has become just another

bandwagon to jump on, another hook with which to fish for clients.



How things change, how swift the Damascene conversion. Even five years

ago, media was still a dirty word at most of the big agency groups.

Sure, they paid lip-service to the idea, but if you talked to anybody

who worked for their media operations, it was pretty obvious that the

big cheeses didn’t really have time for it. Of course, it is true that

people change, different priorities come into play and the world moves

on - although most of the people who ran the agency holding companies

then are still there today - so it may be that they have truly seen the

light.



But it is more pertinent to speculate on how exactly they intend to

build these grand global media operations. To judge from the way some

are going about it, you’d think it was only a question of getting group

agencies to pool their buying, acquiring a specialist to give a veneer

of commitment and giving the whole shooting match a new name like

Genesis or Media Monster.



Then, hey presto, the media owners touch their forelocks and hand out

the discounts. If only.



Students of history know that we’ve been here before. Last time they

were called media clubs - only they weren’t a great success because

everybody spent their whole time arguing with their so-called partners.

This time around, common ownership - the family tie - is supposed to

make all the difference. We shall see. You can’t force people to be part

of the same family and I suspect that the creation of global media buyer

brands will be a damn sight harder and more protracted than anybody

thinks.



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