Leo Burnett is launching its digital media planning and buying
operation, Starcom IP, in Europe, just two weeks after the main Starcom
brand was introduced here.
The separate brand will have its European headquarters at Leo Burnett
and Starcom’s offices in Sloane Street, London, and will be headed by
Burnett’s digital communications director, Bant Breen.
Breen has already hired the planner/buyer, Antonio Silano, from Saatchi
& Saatchi Vision and claims to be working on a number of projects with
existing Leo Burnett clients, as well as talking to prospective
Starcom IP will sit alongside Burnett’s creative new-media affiliates in
different countries, including Hard Reality in the UK, servicing their
clients where called upon.
It will tap into the systems and resources of both the mainstream
Starcom operation and of Starcom IP in the US, with Breen reporting to
the Chicago-based president of the unit, Rishad Tobaccowala.
According to Breen, the operation will also seek to leverage its US
parent’s relationships with global media owners, such as Disney and
Yahoo!, to strike global online media deals. ’The internet is the only
media area where global deals are feasible now,’ Breen said. ’Other
media are still too localised.’
Tobaccowala launched Starcom IP in the US on 1 January this year and
already has claimed billings of dollars 20 million from seven clients.
Starcom IP is not run as a separate profit-and-loss centre within
Burnett, Tobaccowala explained. ’This way, Starcom directors can put
money online without it hurting them and I can say online media’s not
right for certain clients.’
He said the separate brand was necessary for the moment ’to attract
certain skill sets that Starcom may not initially have’. He admitted,
however, that it was likely to be a temporary division.
Tobaccowala reports to Jack Klues, Starcom’s worldwide chief executive,
and Bob Brennan, the chief operating officer - the same status accorded
to the network’s regional directors.
Nick Brien, the Leo Burnett chief executive in London, stressed that the
initiative was only part of the game plan. He said: ’The focus on
Starcom IP does not take away from developing digital capabilities
within the main agency. That is the priority.’