Giant: United International Pictures was the studio responsible for Hulk
ZenithOptimedia has triumphed after a long-running round of agency auditions to win the media planning and buying agency account for film distributor United International Pictures, which spends almost £40m a year in billings.
The win is the Publicis agency's biggest since it rebranded as the Return On Investment agency in February.
After winning one of the more glamourous accounts up for pitch, the agency will now be overseeing campaigns that influence the fate of major Hollywood films.
The win provided a muchneeded coup for chief executive Antony Young and his newlook team.
"This win is the biggest in a long time for the agency," said Young. "I came in at the beginning of the year on the back of a fairly messy takeover, a year which, for Zenith was one to forget. Winning the UIP account is a big deal for us."
The UIP decision came as a major blow, however, for Mediaedge: cia, which has held the account for the past seven years and won plaudits for its work on the cinema front line.
ZenithOptimedia also beat Carat, MediaCom and OMD in vying for the movie distributor's business. UIP handles films for Universal Studios, Paramount and DreamWorks and has a list of hit movies under its belt, including Shrek, Hulk and the Hugh Grant and "anyone who's anyone in UK films" hit, Love Actually.
As a result of the win, ZenithOptimedia risks losing its grip on the account of rival film company Entertainment In Film which has distributed films such as Lord of the Rings and Elf and itself has billings of almost £20m a year - because of a potential clash of interests with UIP. Young said he hopes the agency would be able to retain both accounts.
For Mediaedge:cia, the loss of the account, following a pitch overseen by media auditing company Billetts, will be a major blow. The agency won awards for its work on films such as Jackass The Movie.
"It's the incumbent's nightmare when something like this happens," said Mediaedge:cia chairman Rob Norman, adding: "We've done fantastic work for UIP for years. I can't believe we've been beaten on anything other than price."
UIP marketing director Deborah Sheppard said: "The pitch was a hugely fascinating process. It was an extremely tough decision."