MEDIA AGENCY OF THE YEAR: MEDIACOM TMB - Despite the merger, the agency achieved some impressive new-business gains, kept most of its accounts and managed to increase its marketshare

Last year was not a vintage one for media agencies. The good simply carried on being good, few saw dramatic change, America increasingly drove the fate of some, while at home there were fewer new-business opportunities to really shine. So the shortlist for media agency of the year was, well, short.

Last year was not a vintage one for media agencies. The good simply

carried on being good, few saw dramatic change, America increasingly

drove the fate of some, while at home there were fewer new-business

opportunities to really shine. So the shortlist for media agency of the

year was, well, short.

However, a handful of media specialists did manage to stride forward and

one agency in particular can look back on 1999 as a watershed year.

MediaCom TMB actually began 1999 as two very different agencies,

stitched together at the close of the previous year but still clinging

to disparate cultures, philosophies and even offices. The purchase of

the Media Business by Grey’s MediaCom at the end of 1998 instantly

created a top five player, but one which might have struggled to raise

its game to meet its new status.

History already boasts a catalogue of difficult mergers, and media has

many of its own. Marrying MediaCom and TMB seemed set to distract the

new titan for quite some time. Time, however, was something the new

agency did not have. It was immediately pitched into what was to be the

biggest account review of the year - the pounds 80 million Volkswagen

media review.

MediaCom had wrested the business from Carat in the key German market,

and when the car giant began a UK review in February, the new MediaCom

TMB was widely tipped to take the business even before initial

presentations had taken place. The strength of the client relationship

in Germany undoubtedly played a part in the pitch but MediaCom TMB’s

triumph in winning the prestigious UK business so early in its

incarnation deserves credit.

Volkswagen may have been MediaCom TMB’s biggest win of the year, but it

was not the agency’s only new-business coup. Iceland’s pounds 12 million

account, pounds 5.5 million from IPC and pounds 4 million from Scottish

Telecom were among the pounds 110 million new-business tally.

Along the way the agency parted company with a few senior staff, most

notably Andy Troullides, the former managing director of MediaCom, but

his departure was amicable and there has been no sign of staff


The appointment of Jane Ratcliffe (far left) and Nick Lawson (far right)

as joint managing directors shored up the management of the London

agency, freeing the group managing director, Steve Allan (middle), and

the chairman, Allan Rich (bottom, far left), to concentrate on group


By the end of its first year in business, MediaCom TMB was much bigger

than the sum of its original parts. Its new-business record, its new

management line-up and its successful client retention over what could

have been a hazardous merger period are real triumphs of which the

agency can justifiably feel proud. There are, of course, still issues to

be addressed and challenges to be met, but in 1999 MediaCom TMB built

some solid foundations.

Zenith Media runs a close second, proving in 1999 that it is not just

the biggest media agency, but that it can cut a sharper strategic swathe

through the media world. Zenith clocked up an impressive list of wins,

with the pounds 60 million centralised broadcast account for Mars at its


Landing the Rover planning account without a pitch was quite a coup for

the agency’s strategic credentials, and despite its late arrival on to

the Littlewoods pitch, the agency grabbed the pounds 8 million

centralised media account. The loss of Schweppes to Universal McCann was

a blow and Tetley’s departure for MediaVest marred an otherwise good


Beefing up its credentials, Zenith launched its direct marketing arm,

Zed, at the beginning of last year and at the end of 1999 set up its

new-media arm, Zenith Interactive Solutions, with Amazon’s former

marketing director, Chris Ketley, at its helm.

An honourable mention should go to MindShare, which has cleaned up its

act following a lacklustre start in 1998. Simon Rees, MindShare’s

managing director, has directed the agency towards becoming a strong

player in the market. The agency has put in place a number of media

group heads, including Andy Zonfrillo as head of TV, Edward Lloyd-Barnes

as broadcast planning director and Simon Francis as head of planning.

Picking up the pounds 20 million Britvic Pepsi account in a hotly

contested pitch proved that the agency has become a force to be reckoned


Initiative Media is no stranger to Campaign’s media agency of the year

shortlist, and in 1999 proved itself another worthy contender. Over the

course of the year the agency carved a new specialism in technology

clients, setting up and scooping media business from

Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems and Mannesmann vdo. On the more

mainstream new-business side, wins included Calvin Klein Fashions, Del

Monte and National Magazines.

Motive also deserves a mention for its performance at the 1999 Campaign

Media Awards, scooping four of the prizes and the overall Grand


The accolades are testament to the agency’s stature as one of the best

strategic and creative media operations.

New PHD, which was Campaign’s media agency of the year last year,

managed to build on its strong track record of new-business wins. It has

widened its circle of media specialist groups with the addition of the

new-media consultancy, PHDiQ, and the joint venture with Edge Marketing

and Brand Science, an econometric modelling company.

Previous winners: New PHD (1998); Michaelides & Bednash (1997); TMD

Carat (1996).

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