The WPP Group has edged a step closer to merging the media functions of
its two international networks, J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy and
Mather, by trawling for a chief to head Kodak’s global media account.
But sources at both agencies were playing down the move. They said the
Kodak media chief would not be a WPP appointment, but would be employed
jointly by O&M and JWT and based in Kodak’s New York headquarters.
The unprecedented move comes in the wake of O&M and JWT’s appointment to
handle the entire Kodak global account. A statement from Kodak said the
account would be handled by a ‘new entity formed from the combined
resources of its two worldwide consumer advertising agencies’.
Dominic Proctor, chief executive of JWT, and Mandy Pooler, managing
director of O&M’s media dependant, the Network, denied the agencies
planned to merge their media operations, but declined to comment in
detail on WPP’s future plans.
Martin Sorrell, the WPP chief executive, stated earlier this year that
he favoured a merger of the group’s media operations (Campaign, 15
March). A source close to JWT revealed that top-level talks have been
held on the possible configuration of a merged WPP media operation. ‘The
discussion centres on whether the operation would be just a buying club,
such as the Media Partnership, or include strategy.’
Under the Kodak appointment, JWT and O&M will divide media planning in
the UK, Ireland and Western Europe, with O&M handling all buying. O&M
will handle planning and buying in eastern Europe, while JWT will look
after planning and buying in the Middle East and Africa, except Dubai,
Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, which fall under O&M’s remit.