MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - PSA loss may see Western merger in future for Initiative

When a big pitch reaches its climax and an agency (or, in this case, agencies) is finally picked, there are always mixed emotions. But with the PSA media review, the ramifications go beyond Initiative Media contemplating the whacking loss of a pounds 74 million account and Carat and BBJ licking their lips in anticipation of new-found riches.

When a big pitch reaches its climax and an agency (or, in this

case, agencies) is finally picked, there are always mixed emotions. But

with the PSA media review, the ramifications go beyond Initiative Media

contemplating the whacking loss of a pounds 74 million account and Carat

and BBJ licking their lips in anticipation of new-found riches.



Winning PSA’s media three years ago was an important marker for

Initiative.



For an agency that was seen as being too dependent on Unilever’s brands,

the awarding of the account acknowledged how that agency had sharpened

its strategic capabilities.



Initiative now faces two possible consequences of the PSA removal. The

absence of a car account means that the prospect of a merger with its

sister agency, Western, is looking more realistic. Such a move would

bring the agencies into line with Interpublic’s strategy of merging the

two media brands in most of the countries they existed in. If the two

agencies do merge, it will be interesting to see who will emerge as

agency head - who would you put your money on in the face-off between

Mike Tunnicliffe, Western’s managing director, and Roy Jeans,

Initiative’s head honcho?



The second outcome is that Initiative can now participate with greater

ease in the pan-European Renault media review, which could yield even

greater riches than PSA. In the UK alone, Renault is the third largest

advertiser with a budget of around pounds 84 million. It’s a nice

prospect and presumably preferable to a merger.



The decision to appoint Carat to work on Peugeot and BBJ to handle

Citroen is a surprising twist. However, it became clear during the

pitches that Peugeot and Citroen had different agendas with a yawning

gap between the politics of the two clients. So, splitting the planning

accounts resolves the problem of client friction, while for BBJ’s

managing director, Trista Grant, it partially fills the hole left by

Volkswagen-Audi Group’s departure to MediaCom TMB. It also means that

Carat has regained a car account, after losing Nissan to TBWA OMD.

Pooling the buying for Peugeot and Citroen between BBJ and Carat makes

sense in trading terms and will no doubt refuel rumours that the two

could be close to merging. But the fact that the planning accounts have

been split between the two shops shows how they remain very individual

agencies.



As with the VAG pitch, there has been much talk about the decision for

PSA being driven by the client’s European headquarters rather than the

UK office. There have also been the usual disgruntled grumblings that

this was driven through the procurement division - in other words, that

it was a price-based decision rather than a media talent contest.

Whatever is said, Carat/BBJ have succeeded in winning a big, prestigious

car account that will probably do for them very nicely.



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