The balance of power among the top global media players is set for
a dramatic shake-up when Leo Burnett’s Starcom and MacManus’ MediaVest
merge to form a new top three network next year.
Combining the media clout of Starcom, MediaVest and Dentsu - which is
taking a 20 per cent stake in the new holding company - would create a
new media superpower with billings in excess of dollars 13 billion, and
up to dollars 16 billion on some estimates. The new agency would
probably be the biggest in the US, with billings of around dollars 5.5
billion, though a full merger has been ruled out. In the UK a merged
agency would have combined billings of over pounds 500 million, nudging
at Zenith Media’s number one slot. But Jeff Fergus, the European group
president of Burnett, said there would be no UK merger, despite the fact
the two media agencies were close to a merger here last year. ’Starcom
is now established in its own right here,’ Fergus said. ’There are
advantages to having two brands, which would give us the opportunity to
manage issues such as conflict.’ Other sources insisted that a UK merger
had not been finally ruled out.
Mike Moore, chairman and chief executive of MediaVest Worldwide, said
talks would take place between the partners within the next two weeks
about how to progress on the media issue. ’I would speculate that there
will be complete mergers in some markets, partial mergers in others. We
would certainly hope to come together and be operating as a single
network, because that’s clearly where the advantages are. We were
desperately disappointed in the failure of our first attempts at a media
joint venture,’ Moore added.
Jack Klues, the chairman of Starcom Worldwide, is expected to take a key
role in a merged media operation. Moore, who was brought out of
retirement this summer, is unlikely to take a long-term post in a new
Motive, the Bartle Bogle Hegarty media agency partly owned by Burnett,
is likely to tap into the new network but remain a separate brand.