Interpublic Group is working on plans to pool the negotiating
muscle of its three media brands, Initiative Media, Western
International Media and Universal McCann, into a single operation that
would form the UK’s biggest media negotiation point.
Proposals under discussion would combine the three agencies’ billings
into a new volume-based operation negotiating media deals on billings of
almost pounds 700 million. The idea is to centralise the negotiating
power of the three media agencies to drive greater cost efficiencies for
The plans are part of a global move to bring the IPG media operations
closer together to maximise efficiencies in administrative areas which
don’t pose any threat to client confidentiality or the saliency of the
agencies as distinct brands.
According to Initiative Media’s European regional director and UK chief
executive, Jeffrey Merrihue, the global plan is for the three agencies
’to take advantage of all synergies such as administration, negotiation
and even, possibly, media buying while the brands themselves will remain
Merrihue says the plan will only go ahead once clients from all three
agencies are happy with the idea, and stressed that the individual
agencies would maintain their individual market positions. ’We’re
planning the holy grail of media - the ultimate in service exclusivity
in what will be the biggest negotiation point in the UK.’
The strategy is already in place in Eastern Europe and there is some
co-operation in Germany and Scandanavia. The plan now is to roll it out
to other major markets. A single UK negotiation point could be in place
for the 2000 TV negotiation round next summer.
’We hope the UK strategy will be worked out by Christmas,’ Merrihue
Since the global merger of Initiative and Western was announced last
month, the companies have been looking at ways to improve efficiencies
by sharing backroom resource and pooling media negotiations.
By adding Universal to the mix, the planned negotiation company would be
bigger than Zenith Media, the UK’s largest media agency.