The MMS agency figures made for fascinating reading. Most
interesting to me was the sight of no InterPublic Group agency in the
top ten - a situation I don’t believe has existed in any major market in
the world previously.
Admittedly McCann-Erickson is 11, Lowe Howard-Spink 12 and Ammirati
Puris Lintas 13, but the point stands.
Older lags than I recall a time when McCann-Erickson was number one here
(run by a certain Phil Geier!). Even I can remember Lowes being in the
top five, if not the top three. In living memory, Lintas has hovered on
the fringe of the top ten in the MMS ratings.
It’s a situation that has to be unacceptable. But what will Geier do
about it? Of the three major advertising groups (IPG, WPP and Omnicom)
IPG’s strategy towards such matters appears to be the least clear.
Questions abound - not least about who will succeed Geier himself. A
successor is unlikely to come from within. The venerable finance
director, Gene Beard, is more likely to retire and it seems McCanns’
John Dooner, Ammirati Puris Lintas’s Martin Puris, or our own Frank
Lowe, don’t want the job.
Omnicom and WPP seem to be forging ahead - particularly in the
below-the-line arena. While it’s true that IPG has recently put together
the interesting Octagon sports marketing consultancy, it appears to
exist slightly more in isolation within IPG than it might within the
Moreover, while acquisition keeps Wall Street and the City happy, there
is still a need for genuine organic growth of the kind that BBDO, DDB
Needham and Young & Rubicam currently appear to be enjoying.
McCanns and the Lowe Group both remain profitable, but continue to make
rather uneasy sisters within the family. APL has been badly holed by the
Compaq loss - an account that had been used to trumpet Martin Puris’s
In the past there have been rumours about merging Lintas and Lowes -
which is a recipe for disaster. There’s been talk of floating McCanns
too, which may prove more viable. Perhaps it’s just that the IPG centre
is less publicly active than Omnicom and WPP.
Let’s get this in perspective: other people should have some of IPG’s
problems. However, someone has to get a grip in the UK, which remains
for Americans the gateway to Europe. In six months’ time McCanns or
Lowes may have snuck back into tenth, but that would not be good
Size may not matter as much as it used to, but we all know it’s a fib to
pretend that it doesn’t matter at all.
It’s difficult to believe, but the men’s magazine market didn’t really
exist ten years ago. Then along came Arena, followed by Esquire and GQ,
the iconoclastic Loaded and the extraordinary success of FHM.
To date, I’ve criticised FHM’s content and attitude - even its TV
advertising, so I know nothing.
Now it has posted a phenomenal ABC of 775,000. Even Campaign choosing it
as Medium of the Year couldn’t bugger it up. Words rarely written, but
hats off to Emap.