Another year over, a new millennium just begun and time for
Campaign’s media agency of the year award. Not much of a lip-chewing
contest, though, this one. In fact, the list of contenders was as long
as Steve Allan’s haircut. Few, I think, will be surprised about the
choice of MediaCom TMB as media agency of the year, particularly those
who have experienced similar mergers and know first hand the
distractions, politics and logistics involved - all of which MediaCom
TMB seems to have successfully overcome.
Even rival agencies which did their darndest to nudge our decision their
way volunteered MediaCom TMB as a worthy candidate - for its
new-business record as well as for the grace with which it stepped up to
take top-five agency status. The agency still lacks some of the sparkle
of a confident, polished media operation, but its sterling first-year
performance is a solid foundation.
Taking a retrospective of the 90s, the media industry was in such an
evolutionary phase, with many of the top agencies not even conceived at
the outset, that it is impossible to nominate a single company which
dominated the decade. But before the 90s become a dim memory, here are a
few tributes to some media agencies which changed the face of the
Zenith Media must, of course, take credit for getting the business
motoring at the beginning of the 90s, finally throwing a spotlight on
media as an industry and managing to reinvent itself as the decade drew
to a close.
Carat, BMP OMD and the old Media Centre (now MediaVest) also set the
agenda for the bigger agencies, consistently matching size with real
The launch of Michaelides & Bednash in 1994 marked a sea change in the
emphasis placed on strategic planning (a function still awaiting real
definition), raising the game and helping agencies find new ways of
charging more for their work.
Also sparkling in the creative and strategic arena, Motive and Manning
Gottlieb Media proved that clever thinking was not the exclusive domain
of the strategic specialist, while PHD and then New PHD stood out as one
of the smartest operations of the late 90s - a truly rounded business
which has never stood still, always strived for excellence, and often
Predictions are always tricky, but even if you’ve managed to get this
far down my column, you probably won’t remember it in ten years’ time,
so what the hell.
Star performers for the years ahead: the new Starcom Motive Partnership
will be an agency to watch as it seeks to pool nimble creative media
solutions with a multinational client base. MindShare should begin to
fly with its full-service communications proposition after a faltering
start. Western will emerge as IPG’s UK media hotshop.
Oh, and CIA Medianetwork will make a comeback and take the top five by
storm. Well, anything’s possible in the new millennium.