Last week Channel 5 awarded its pounds 10 million media account to
its good friends, Walker Media. Bonhomie, it seemed, reigned in media
Except at Carat and Michaelides & Bednash, the two unfortunate agencies
on the wrong end of the Channel 5 move. Carat - not much used to losing
business - was ’bemused and appalled’ by the decision. It thought it had
a special relationship with Channel 5 - ’clearly that wasn’t the
But, of course, Walker Media’s Christine Walker and Phil Georgiadis also
had a special relationship with Channel 5’s new marketing director, Jim
Hytner, who has worked with both of them in previous incarnations. And
Walker Media will no doubt do a fine job on the business, although
whether Channel 5’s sales director, Nick Milligan, will be better off
I’m not sure; Carat spends a lot more money with Channel 5 than Channel
5 ever did with Carat.
Despite its vocal disappointment, I suspect that Carat will be smart
enough to shrug its shoulders and concentrate on ensuring that it
generally benefits from such exchanges (remember the Channel 5/Aegis
shareholder, Warburg Pincus?)
The loss could, however, be a little harder for Michaelides & Bednash to
swallow. M&B worked on media strategy for the Channel 5 launch and
produced work which helped propel it to the lofty heights of Campaign’s
Media Agency of the Year for 1997.
But 1998 has not been going quite so well for the agency. In the past
few months it has parted company with Cable & Wireless, National Savings
and now Channel 5, three accounts that helped build its image as a
creative media hotshop.
With all three losses there are mitigating circumstances, but
streamlining their media requirements into a single agency was cited by
all three as a factor in their decision (National Savings even plumped
for a full-service solution at BMP). For them, it seems, relationships
work better in the singular.
First Direct, Britvic and, more recently, BT have proved there’s still
life in the strategic media game. But M&B’s recent fortunes show all too
clearly that the strategic media company is not necessarily a long-term
choice for those advertisers brave enough to try it. The harsh reading
would be that they sucked it and didn’t like the taste. But the truth,
perhaps, has more to do with the strides being made by media agencies in
latching on to the strategic media game, or at least the hype and bluff
which has characterised it. According to Channel 5, Georgiadis will
’bring a lot of what M&B brought to the party’.
I’m sure there’s plenty more life in the M&B dog yet, but it needs to
stay ahead or its usp will soon be swallowed up by media agencies. It’s
perhaps telling that M&B is now said to be planning a US office - it
will take years before the US media scene latches on.