Cordiant Communications is considering legal action against Publicis-owned Saatchi & Saatchi following the switch of Hewlett-Packard's pounds 100 million global media account from Zenith Media into Publicis's Optimedia.
Cordiant and Saatchis are joint owners of Zenith, and both are legally committed to place all their media through the Zenith network unless there is unsolicited written requirement by the client to do otherwise. Saatchis handles all of the HP creative business around the world and so originally contracted the media out to Zenith.
It is understood that Cordiant may now challenge the transfer of HP to Optimedia, claiming that the switch could be in breach of Saatchis' commitment to Zenith. The media move deprives Cordiant of any income from the HP media business because it will now be handled by Publicis's media operation.
John Perriss, the chief executive of Zenith, said: 'We believe this may constitute a breach of our media services agreement with Saatchi & Saatchi.
CCG's lawyers are fully briefed and legal proceedings are under way.' A spokesman for CCG refused to confirm or deny the story. Richards Butler is acting for CCG.
A legal wrangle could throw into jeopardy any future talks between Publicis and CCG about the former buying out CCG's 50 per cent stake in Zenith to make it a wholly owned Publicis subsidiary. Perriss added: 'We are disappointed that our first experience of Publicis/Saatchi & Saatchi is that sort of behaviour.'
HP was keen to house its media within one global media agency. The business had been split between Zenith and Optimedia, with Universal McCann working across Latin America.The consolidation means that Optimedia picks up an extra pounds 9.8 million of UK business covering HP's corporate work, printers and e-services activity.