- Saatchi & Saatchi company PLC becomes Cordiant Plc.
- Publicis discontinues its alliance with FCB due to strategic divergences with True North Communications, FCB's parent company.
- Omnicom acquires Chiat Day Holdings and merges its operations with TBWA International. Bill Tragos gets the top job at the network.
- Grey launches media services under the name MediaCom.
- Interpublic buys Campbell Mithun Esty from Cordiant and Anderson & Lembke.
- Mars severs its 40-year marriage with Bates.
- Euro RSCG Worldwide becomes Havas Advertising, under Alain de Pouzilhac, and restructures into four divisions: Euro RSCG, Campus, Mediapolis and Diversified Agencies.
- DMB&B Inc, which was formed after D'Arcy-MacManus' merger with Benton & Bowles, buys NW Ayer. The holding company is renamed The MacManus Group and encompasses D'Arcy, NW Ayer, Manning, Selvage & Lee and the Medicus Group.
- Publicis starts its expansion outside of Europe, acquiring operations in Mexico, Brazil and Canada. The company also acquires in eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
- Interpublic buys Weber Group, DraftDirect Worldwide, Angotti, Thomas, Hedge and Goldberg Moser O'Neil.
- Omnicom, under John Wren, takes a clutch of investments in new media and houses the acquired interactive shops in a new unit called Communicade.
- WPP launches MindShare, pooling the media interests of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather, in Europe and Asia.
- Leo Burnett acquires 49 per cent of Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
- Havas transfers its Euro RSCG Worldwide head office to New York.
- Interpublic buys Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos.
- Saatchi & Saatchi plc and Cordiant Communications Group are demerged. They begin issuing shares as separate public companies with Bob Seelert driving the demerger.
- Mike Greenlees, founder of GGT Group, buys the Paris-based BDDP. In less than a year GGT falls to Omnicom.
- Maurice Levy makes a bid for True North, trying to scupper True North's purchase of Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon and Eckhardt. Levy and True North boss Bruce Mason bicker until Mason prevails to win BJK&E.
- MediaCom becomes independent in the US, having already become independent in Germany.
- Interpublic buys International Public Relations, the parent company of Shandwick and Golin/Harris.
- Interpublic companies Western International Media and Initiative Media Worldwide merge to form Western Initiative Media.
- Young & Rubicam goes public at $25 per share.
- Interpublic merges Ammirati Puris Lintas and Lowe to form Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide.
- Leo Burnett Worldwide launches Starcom Worldwide.
- Havas merges its media functions under one roof with the creation of Media Planning Group.
- Interpublic folds Anderson & Lembke into McCann-Erickson.
- Interpublic folds most of its interactive holdings into Zentropy Partners and Angotti Thomas Hedge is folded into Gotham.
- MediaVest is formed as the media arm of DMB&B.
- The MacManus Group acquires the Kaplan Thaler Group.
- Leo Burnett Worldwide forms The Leo Group which announces its intention to merge with MacManus Group in 2000.
- The Leo Group and MacManus merger unveils its new identity, Bcom3, which becomes the holding company for, amongst other divisions, the Burnett and D'Arcy agencies and newly-formed Starcom MediaVest Group, the international media operation. However Starcom and MediaVest remain separate operations in several key markets such as North America, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Bcom3 has a 20 per cent stake in the Japanese agency giant, Dentsu in a reciprocal deal.
- The merger of Leo Burnett and D'Arcy in Toyko to form Beacon becomes official, with Dentsu taking equity.
- Starcom merges with BBH's media operation, Motive, in the UK to form Starcom Motive Partnership. Starcom Motive is launched as a European media arm for BBH.
A lot can happen in 15 years. By the end of 1986 Saatchi & Saatchi was one of the biggest agency networks, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Margaret Thatcher reigned in the UK,and what was then still known as the Soviet Union had yet to get its first taste of a Big Mac.
- Interpublic buys Deutsch and the research company NFO Worldwide. It merges Shandwick with Weber PR to form Weber Shandwick Worldwide.
- Grey, under Ed Meyer, forms a holding company, Grey Global Group, and renames the ad agency Grey Worldwide.
- Publicis buys Saatchi & Saatchi for $1.8 billion, following a string of heavyweight acquisitions in the US, including Frankel and Fallon McElligott, and in the process leaps from being the tenth largest communications group to being the sixth largest.
- WPP becomes the world's biggest marketing services group with its $4.7 billion acquisition of Young & Rubicam Group.
- WPP acquires Spafax Airline Network, an international provider of inflight entertainment content.
- Havas Advertising buys the remaining 55 per cent stake in Media Planning Group (MPG).
- Interpublic buys True North communications for $2.1 billion. The deal makes Interpublic the largest advertising and communications group in the world, making WPP the second-largest, and Omnicom the third-largest.
- Interpublic creates Magna Global as a media negotiating unit.
- A "rapprochement
emerges between Optimedia and Zenith Media in the wake of Publicis' takeover of Saatchi & Saatchi.
A decade later Labour was in Downing Street and the democrat Bill Clinton held power in the US, while in the agency world new names had emerged to control the global picture. Omnicom had risen to be one of the world's top holding companies, WPP had emerged from nowhere to absorb the mighty J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather networks, most agencies had cut adrift their media arms, while Saatchi & Saatchi was Saatchi-less.
- WPP acquires the media and marketing network Tempus after Havas and Tempus fail to pull off a deal.
- Zenith Media merges with Optimedia. Cordiant Communications Group has a 25 per cent holding.
- Paris-based Publicis Groupe, under Maurice Levy, announces its intent to acquire Bcom3 Group. Dentsu will continue to have a significant minority stake in what will become the world's fourth-largest marketing communications company.
- Bcom3 consolidates NW Ayer's business into The Kaplan Thaler Group.
Even the past five years have seen dramatic shifts on the global stage.
The US is ever more firmly established as the headquarters of global advertising. And the US has also followed Europe in hiving off media into a separate discipline. The move has ensured that media has finally taken off as a truly international business, with each of the big holding companies investing in globally branded media operations.
Along with the globalisation of the business has inevitably come consolidation, as those agencies without the resource to compete on a full international footing have sought protection within ever-bigger holding companies. WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom have jostled at the top of the global league for the past few years, with each new acquisition sending observers scurrying for their calculators to track the latest rankings.
The trend to consolidation has mirrored that on the client side as multinational advertisers have rationalised their portfolios and streamlined their marketing to drive truly international brands. In search of global advertising strategies, if not executions, for these brands, clients have realigned their agency relationships along international lines. In turn this has ensured that the process of network consolidation has not lost pace, with Publicis emerging at the latest force in the global arena with its acquisition of Bcom3, driving its media billings to $31.7 billion and propelling it into the fourth slot in the global rankings.
The worldwide recession that has coloured the start of the new millennium is putting additional pressure on global clients and agencies to seek cost-efficiencies and meet the demands of Wall Street with tangible changes to the way their business are structured and managed.
Continued change is likely to remain the norm as both advertising and marketing budgets are stretched to their limit and both clients and advertising agencies struggle to maintain their brand saliency in the face of financial belt-tightening around the world.
Looking ahead, several advertising agency networks and media brands seem vulnerable in the context of economic downturn and the shrinking of the international marketplace.
Speculation has centred on how Grey Worldwide and Cordiant's Bates will meet the challenge of a global market where clout and resource are keys to winning business from the leading multinational advertisers. As for media agencies, Aegis, which owns Europe's largest media agency, Carat (now the sole international media independent), is expected to make a strategic alliance to match the might of its global competitors such as MindShare and OMD.
- The kick-off. Omnicom Group is formed by a three-way merger in May 1986 of Needham Harper Worldwide, Doyle Dane Bernbach plus BBDO. Allen Rosenshine is the chief executive of the new holding company.
- In the same month Bob Jacoby sells Ted Bates to the Saatchis for a staggering $100 million.
- WPP, under Martin Sorrell, hits the headlines by acquiring JWT Group for $566 million in a hostile bid. The Group includes Hill and Knowlton Inc, the world's largest public relations/public affairs company, and MRB Group Inc, the world's sixth largest market research network.
- Optimedia is founded as the Publicis network's media buying subsidiary.
- Interpublic, the holding company for McCann-Erickson, merges SSC&B: Lintas, which it bought in 1980, and Campbell Ewald to form Lintas: Worldwide.
- Zenith Media is formed to centralise Saatchi & Saatchi and Bates' media buying function.
- Bruce Crawford returns to Madison Avenue as chief executive officer of Omnicom, taking over from Rosenshine.
- WPP acquires The Ogilvy Group for $864 million. This includes Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, the global advertising, direct marketing and public relations company, and Research International, the global market research company. The deal creates the world's largest agency empire. David Ogilvy retires in 1992.
- Interpublic sells its equity in Lowe Marschalk to Lowe Howard-Spink & Bell.
- Interpublic buys The Lowe Group and The Martin Agency.
- Havas Conseil becomes Eurocom Advertising.
- Eurocom Advertising merges with RSCG to become Euro RSCG Worldwide. It is the seventh largest in its field.
- Coca-Cola shocks the advertising agency world by hiring Mike Ovitz's Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood.
- Publicis creates BMZ, a new network operating in Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.
- Omnicom acquires TBWA International.
- Publicis acquires FCA, the fourth-largest communications group in France, then merges FCA and BMZ to create FCA!BMZ, a subsidiary operating in 12 European countries.
- Marlboro Friday - when Philip Morris cutting prices on its premium brands by a staggering 40 cents causes Wall Street to declare brands dead.
- Publicis merges Bloom, the US subsidiary of FCA, to boost its presence in the US.
- Interpublic Buys Western International Media and buys Ammirati & Puris for $54 million. It merges the latter with Lintas to become Ammirati Puris Lintas. Martin Puris is the CEO. John Dooner becomes the CEO of McCann-Erickson Worldwide.
- Interpublic launches Gotham.
- IBM masterminds the biggest account consolidation in the history of advertising so far. It moves up to $500 million worth of billings to Ogilvy & Mather and sacks 40 other shops.