The news that Interpublic Group is looking at pooling the media
negotiations might of its three distinct media brands - Western,
Initiative Media and Universal McCann - sent a few shockwaves through
the media fraternity last week.
At a time when size and buying power are vital, when rival groups are
also marshalling their media muscle, it’s obvious that IPG should
consider how best to maximise its group resources. Where IPG is
determined to stand out from the pack, however, is in protecting the
saliency of its separate brands. Not for them the WPP MindShare model of
full merger. IPG appears to have identified some real advantages to
keeping its eggs in different baskets.
First, whatever the aspirations of the big agencies, client conflict is
sure to remain an issue for many advertisers for some time to come,
hence the wisdom of owning two or three separate media shops.
Second, as recent creative and media appointments by clients such as
National Savings (won separately but simultaneously by BMP DDB and BMP
Optimum) show, some advertisers still prefer a pseudo full-service
With Universal McCann offering the potential for a full-service media
solution and Western and Initiative catering for advertisers who want an
independent media agency, IPG has all bases covered.
Jeffrey Merrihue, Initiative’s European chief, describes the IPG
proposals as ’the holy grail of media’ - service exclusivity with the
efficiencies of combining volume where it counts.
The politics and practicalities of pooling negotiations and the
reluctance of major clients such as Unilever to sign are hurdles still
to be cleared, but as the media market continues to contract, the wisdom
of the manoeuvre is hard to argue with.