Zenith loses Sky task to Universal

Universal McCann has walked off with the pounds 18 million Sky Television media planning and buying business, leaving the incumbent of five years, Zenith Media, empty handed.

Universal McCann has walked off with the pounds 18 million Sky

Television media planning and buying business, leaving the incumbent of

five years, Zenith Media, empty handed.



Universal pitched against Zenith and the Network, Ogilvy and Mather’s

media arm, which had been the favourite to land the account. The Network

is pitching with its WPP stablemate, J. Walter Thompson, for the Central

Office of Information’s centralised press buying business, and the pair

were also understood to be prepared to pool resources for Sky (Campaign,

last week).



Sky is Universal’s third major new-business win in 1997, bringing new

billings for the first half of the year to pounds 40 million. The agency

has already picked up the pounds 12 million Esso account and the pounds

10 million Entertainment Film Distributors business.



The Sky pitch was called in March after the departure of Christine

Walker, Zenith’s chief executive. Walker was close to the Sky account

and rumours that she would become the European head of a new WPP media

operation, combining the Network and JWT, fuelled speculation that the

account would move there.



Jim Hytner, the marketing director at Sky, said Universal was the right

cultural fit for Sky, but admitted it was a very close pitch.



’It could have stayed with Zenith,’ he added. ’They hardly put a foot

wrong. We just felt we needed a fresh pair of legs on the field.’’



Trista Grant, the managing director of Universal McCann, said: ’We are

delighted to be working with a company as forward thinking as Sky

Television.’



The appointment is likely to bring about a change in media strategy, and

may see Sky move away from a reliance on posters and press.



Hytner commented: ’Part of Universal’s remit will be to challenge Sky on

its media strategy. Universal is going to provide us with innovation and

24-hour pragmatism.’



Graham Duff, the chief executive of Zenith Media, said: ’The team has

done a great job so it is frustrating to lose out.’



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