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
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
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.