Since I started in the media business at the beginning of the 80s,
nothing has changed significantly as far as the location of lead
agencies is concerned. The lead functions of international media agency
networks are located outside Germany. Everybody knows the capital city
of media in Europe - London - and also the second most important place -
Paris. But who thinks about Dusseldorf, Hamburg or Frankfurt?
I think it’s time to say: ’Welcome Germany.’ There are many arguments
why Germany should play a more important role in the media business.
These are some of the most important.
1. Germany is the biggest European market with a population of more than
80 million people.
(Only Russia has more inhabitants but it’s still in the phase of
economic development.) Because of its big potential and serious buying
power, Germany is the most important market in Europe for almost all
2. Germany is the strongest economy in the whole of Europe. For example,
in 1997 the GDP in Germany was nearly 50 per cent higher than the GDP of
France, which was ranked second.
3. Already 50 per cent of the biggest top 20 European companies (in
terms of turnover) are German companies. Their headquarters are based
across the country and these companies are very good examples of how
it’s possible to co-ordinate big business (even in Germany ...).
4. Germany is also the home of several important media owners with
international operations. Bertelsmann, CLT-Ufa, the Kirch group and Axel
Springer are a few examples. German agencies are on the doorstep for
5. We have the most developed TV market in terms of the number of free
channels and the technical advances of our operations. Due to the
detailed official ratecard system and the fact that there is no
safety-net in the form of guarantees, Germany also has the best
experience worldwide in terms of spot placement - although not every
agency has this capability.
6. In other media, as much as in TV, the German market has the biggest
supply across Europe:
nearly 300,000 poster sites, 4,000 cinemas, more than 200 radio
stations, 328 daily newspapers, 27 weekly newspapers, more than 800
magazines and nearly 1,100 trade magazines. This media landscape
requires a detailed knowledge of planning and buying in all media
7. The comparison of the media expenditures across Europe reflects the
total supply of media and the importance of single markets. Germany is
also the number one country in terms of media expenditure in Europe,
followed by the UK.
8. We have the top research knowhow, especially in TV. In all developed
countries, TV measurement is based on Peoplemeter systems. I’m convinced
that the most sophisticated system and the hardest research currency
exists in Germany. In discussions with media people from other western
European countries, I’m often confronted with the suggestion that we
should modify our system. They believe that their own systems, which may
include variables such as visitors watching TV, are better. But it’s
hard to believe. This was important in the 50s and 60s - the ’good old
days’ of TV when there were fewer TV sets - but not today. Therefore -
and not only in the case of TV - Germany, with its more logical research
systems, provides the best examples of how to measure the real
performance of media.
Last year, two dozen of Germany’s top managers wrote in a positioning
statement that hardly another country in the world has such conditions
to enable it to stand up to the challenges of globalisation. This is
correct and also valid for the business of media agencies.
One thing that’s essential is self-confidence. German agencies operate
in the biggest European market with a high standard of professionalism
and sophistication. They must demonstrate these advantages more often in
front of international clients and within their own international agency
Then they will get the opportunity to prove their ability to lead
international businesses. It’s a long and hard way, but also a very
I said at the start that nothing has changed for a long time - that’s
not strictly true. MediaCom Dusseldorf, as part of the worldwide
operating MediaCom agency network, shows that German agencies can
deliver an important contribution to the whole process within an
I look forward to seeing what happens in the European agency landscape
over the next decade. Will German agencies be able to build up or
strengthen their international position?
Werner Beitz is the managing director of MediaCom Dusseldorf.