Agencies fight shy of UK merger

MediaVest and StarCom employees are wondering what the future holds, having turned up for work last Tuesday to discover that they belonged to the largest media services holding company in the world.

MediaVest and StarCom employees are wondering what the future

holds, having turned up for work last Tuesday to discover that they

belonged to the largest media services holding company in the world.



The merger of Leo Group, owner of StarCom, and MediaVest’s parent

company MacManus Group, has created a global media giant boasting

billings in excess of dollars 13 billion. The figure does not include

Dentsu’s billings - Japan’s biggest media agency is the largest

shareholder in the holding group with a 20 per cent slice of

Chicago-based BDM, as it will temporarily be known.



However, as the hype died down, all those involved insisted that the UK

operations will not merge, despite sharing clients, including Procter &

Gamble. One of the few client conflicts to have arisen is between the

Kellogg’s (StarCom) and Quaker (MediaVest) accounts.



The overseas offices of both agencies, though, are a different

matter.



Offices, especially in Europe, could well merge if there are no

conflicts, in order to build bigger local players.



Roger Haupt, the new CEO of BDM, said: ’We have no intention of merging

the UK or US offices. Both agencies are doing well and are sizeable.

Client conflict is an issue and just smashing them together is not a

very intelligent thing to do. This way they have the freedom to pursue

whatever clients they want and I’d rather have two agencies pitching for

an account.’



However, he added: ’We will look at the smaller markets and see what the

clients want to do there but merging them will be the exception rather

than the rule. Frankly, at the moment we’re still working on the legal

side, nothing will start happening until January.’



Dentsu, which has a raft of heavyweight clients including Sony, Fuji and

Toyota, finally gets its wish to become a global player through the

merger and will use StarCom and MediaVest’s global network to serve its

clients’ needs worldwide.



Haupt added that Media-Vest, StarCom and Dentsu may well share ’systems

and research’ in the future.



Its not the first time the MediaVest and StarCom have attempted to tie

the knot. Just over a year ago the pair came close to a media marriage

but their US parents got cold feet.



’We’ve all been here before so a lot of the work has been done. I’ve got

a real feeling of deja vu,’ said MediaVest chairman Jim Marshall.



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