School Reports 2012: Starcom MediaVest Group

While the group chief executive, Stewart Easterbrook, has wisely set the Starcom vessel on a digital course, the problem for the agency is that it keeps losing key clients.

Recent Emirates work
Recent Emirates work


Agency fact file: Starcom MediaVest Group

Type of agency Communications planning and buying
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Key personnel Stewart Easterbrook chief executive, SMG
  Matt James managing director, Starcom
  Steve Parker managing director, MediaVest
  Chris Locke UK trading director, SMG
  John Antoniades director of multinational client operations, EMEA
Nielsen billings 2011 £418m
Nielsen billings 2010 £484m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 100+
Accounts won 8 (biggest: Universal Theme Parks)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Bupa – Group Brand Division)
TV 55%
Press 10%
Outdoor 5%
Radio 4%
Search 7%
Digital 19%
Number of staff 420 (+15%)

In 2011, Bupa and Revlon left Starcom MediaVest Group, and its wins were small in comparison - coming from the likes of Universal Theme Parks and Hoseasons. However, its capture of the global Novartis business in December was a timely boost for London.

Where the agency has progressed is in winning digital briefs from existing clients such as Pizza Hut, Samsung and Procter & Gamble. This is an encouraging sign and SMG expects its traditional blue-chip client base to increase its investment in new channels.

SMG's management team was relatively stable, with Matt James continuing as the managing director of Starcom and Steve Parker in the same role at MediaVest. However, there were changes in the shape of the group's UK portfolio. In April, it launched the content unit Liquid Thread and then, in July, came the news that SMG had sold its minority stake in MediaVest Manchester back to its owners ahead of their deal with Aegis Media, which led to the agency's rebrand as Carat Manchester.

The SMG network has its own issues (including making up for the loss of the global General Motors account in January 2012) and its UK business also faces the challenge of finding new clients while building its digital resource. This is the right strategy but will be no easy task, given that its rivals all have the same idea and are, arguably, ahead of the curve.

Score last year: 3

How Starcom MediaVest Group rates itself: 7

"2011 was another step on our future-facing journey, with double-digit growth led by digital and game-changing campaigns for our clients. The map of London is forever changed through Emirates' Olympic cable car, Heineken's Champions League was supercharged through Twitter, and the most successful mobile campaign of the year was our Samsung/Angry Birds integration. Just some of the reasons we won the Festival of Media's Network of the Year."

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