We’ve talked about it for a decade, but still nothing seems to
For ten years the industry has entertained itself with visions of
global, one-stop deals, but there’s been little evidence of progress
since Mars tied up a global contract with Rupert Murdoch’s various
holdings in the early 90s.
As we enter a new millennium, perhaps advertisers and agencies will
finally attain the dream. The signs are encouraging. In December, Time
Warner, arguably the most credible global proposition, put together a
unifying editorial idea across its various interests - CNN
International, CNN Interactive, Time and Fortune - called ’Visions of
Europe’. Its reach was not global, but it was significant because, for
the first time, Time Warner grouped its assets into one tempting
editorial package. Already five major global advertisers have signed up,
including BMW and Oracle.
Everybody involved insists this has been a great success, and work has
started on the next series, to run on CNN and Time in Latin America.
’Leaders for the New Millennium’ will profile 50 faces to watch across
Time Warner has also completed deals for clients such as Cathay Pacific
and Volvo, through its centralised Turner Marketing Solutions Group,
which was set up three years ago.
Not to be left out, News Corporation formed its own equivalent, News
Corp One, in April 1998. Kayne Lanahan, head of the division, promised
at the time: ’Our division offers one-shop shopping, developing customer
solutions that leverage News Corp’s global and local properties.’
Mergers and new technology now enable multinational media owners to
offer advertisers a mind-blowing menu of media options. They no longer
rely entirely on content as they also frequently own distribution
channels, TV rights, global brands and even sports events and stadiums.
Time Warner, for example, merged with Turner Broadcasting Systems in
1996 to create a company offering television, cable, satellite, film,
music and print.
Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC in July 1995 for dollars 19 billion.
Meanwhile, News Corp has become the largest TV network in the world
following its link-up with the entertainment group, MCA, and the
acquisition in 1993 of a majority stake in the Asian Star TV network. On
top of that, this year News Corp bought a stake in a Los Angeles sports
arena as well as shares in the major basketball and hockey teams. And in
the UK, controversially, it’s after Manchester United.
News Corp One could, for example, attach an advertiser to a global News
Corp brand such as The Simpsons, Titanic or even Ryan Giggs, then carry
the advertiser’s message through the widest possible range of treatments
from TV to film, from sport sponsorship to in-store promotions.
True global deals are not just about price. They’re about creating
strategic alliances between media owners and advertisers. ’We are not
looking to give discounts,’ says David Levi, president of Turner
’This is a way to help build brands and marketing platforms.’
Advertisers, he insists, are not shoehorned into deals: ’It has to be a
Everybody is looking for ways to team up with strong partners and strong
News Corp’s Lanahan believes many clients can benefit: ’It’s not
necessarily just big global multinational companies. Lots of clients in
the new categories like telecoms and computers have very quickly moved
into the global marketplace.’ But before we get carried away, a sceptic
might ask: why aren’t we seeing more completed deals? News Corp One has
yet to announce a single global advertiser to embrace its consolidated
sell. Lanahan insists that three such deals have already been tied up
but regrets she can’t talk about them.
John Perriss, the Zenith Media Worldwide chairman, remains cynical. ’I
would be amazed if this was a significant piece of our business in ten
years’ time. If you look at the three sides of the industry, clients
have been globalising for a number of years and ad agencies followed.
The media companies’ response has been woefully inadequate. Even Time
Warner doesn’t have truly global properties. It has huge strength in the
US and a bit of presence elsewhere.’
Perriss’s harshest words are for News Corp One. ’It’s a ragbag,’ he
’We are the biggest media buying agency in China, the fourth in the US
and number one in the UK and yet I have never seen anyone from News Corp
One. I’ve not had one mailing from them, and no-one has called.’
But Nick Emery, strategic development director of WPP’s MindShare,
defends News Corp. ’We are talking to News Corp about seven deals. That
probably means two or three will come off.’
But global deals take a lot of time, and they’re strewn with
Turner’s Levi explains: ’The average time it takes to put a deal
together is six months to a year.’ Despite the problems, conditions
couldn’t be better for global deals. But unless the likes of News Corp
come up with something concrete soon, we may begin to lose faith.
World music and media companies ranking by media turnover (dollars m)
Company Total Media % Change Operations
turnover* turnover* from
Time Warner (US) 24,600 24,600 18.0 TV, C, S, F, M, P
Walt Disney / ABC (US) 22,500 17,220 20.0 F, TV, R
Sony (Japan) 51,177 15,101 41.0 F, M, E
Bertelsmann (Germany) 15,000 15,000 15.0 P, M, TV, R, S, F
News Corp (Australia) 14,355 14,355 31.0 P, F, TV, S, C
Notes: *Most recent year’s figures published by company;
Operations key: TV -Television; R - Radio; S - Satellite; C - Cable;
M-Music; F -Film; P - Print; E -Electronic
Source: MTI Music and Media Companies Report 1999.