Top Performers of 2004: International Media Network of the Year - MindShare

For MindShare, 2004 meant new-business success, award-winning work, investment in planning and research and creating a strong culture.

This year was one in which MindShare delivered on its potential, becoming, through a mixture of new-business wins and capitalising on existing client relationships, an international powerhouse.

It had the most successful 12 months in its seven-year history; landing a massive $3 billion-worth of new business, winning numerous awards and investing heavily in research.

MindShare's scale rocketed after it landed the £690 million western Europe Unilever account after a pitch against Carat and Initiative. It also won HSBC and Samsung globally (both part of WPP group wins), a large chunk of the global Nestle business, and retained American Express across all markets.

Local business wins included Diageo in Latin America, Vodafone and Diageo in Japan and Asia-Pacific Breweries in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

There were no significant client losses and the agency also impressed by adding substantially to its long-standing client relationships. Notable examples included winning the Nike account in South Africa and Kimberly-Clark in Russia and Ukraine. MindShare now handles around 95 per cent of Kimberly-Clark's global business.

The agency's dynamic performance was underpinned by a strong and stable management team. The main players include Irwin Gotlieb, the chief executive of GroupM (MindShare's media parent), Dominic Proctor, the chief executive of MindShare, and the chief strategy officer, Nick Emery.

MindShare's core regional management also provided stability. David Byles, the chief executive in Latin America, Giulio Malegori, the chief executive across Europe, and John Steedman, the chief executive in Asia-Pacific, continued to lead their respective regions. There were some key hirings, including that of Peter Tortorici as the president of the agency's MindShare Entertainment division, to create programming for advertisers.

MindShare undoubtedly benefits from the strength of WPP generally and its considerable investment and commitment to building strong media specialists.

The close involvement of Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's chief executive, in some of the agency's new-business activity has also helped, as has the GroupM proposition, which sees MindShare combine negotiations resources with Mediaedge:cia.

However, MindShare's success goes beyond delivering a smooth, efficient service to clients. Its output is among the most creative from the large media networks. Highlights in 2004 included MindShare Entertainment's development of a six-part drama series in the US called The Days, in conjunction with Unilever and Sears; work for Ford to support its Uefa Champions League sponsorship; the Volvo "Mystery of Dalaro" communications programme, and an international campaign for IBM to strengthen the company's position in business and IT consulting. Its "baby shapes/baby thoughts" work for the Kimberly-Clark brand Huggies helped to generate an additional $90 million in sales.

MindShare India launched T Matrix, a cable TV channel featuring drama series and blockbuster films as an efficient platform for brands wishing to carry out localised marketing. MindShare India also developed Print Passion, a planning tool designed to provide clients with a clearer insight into audience involvement with specific publications.

On the research side too, MindShare unveiled some pioneering developments.

It rolled out its MindSet global research initiative, designed to provide an understanding of consumer channel use by time of day. Some 20,000 consumers were given PDA devices to record media use. MindShare hopes to use the results to measure use of non-traditional media platforms. MindShare also expanded its 3-D consumer research panel to 80,000 people worldwide, launching the programme in four more countries, taking the total to 25. The network also increased its investment in econometrics, growing its Advanced Techniques Group. It now has more than 100 econometricians across the network.

Direct media has always been a tricky area for the large networks to get their heads around and in the past MindShare was no exception. However, in 2004 it addressed this issue with investment in its global direct and digital arm, mOne, and in a joint venture with its sister WPP company RMG.

MindShare also took steps to improve the links across its network, holding its first annual global conference last March and launching a programme of creating "Mbassadors" - a representative from each market acts as a central point of communication for their country as part of the network.

All in all, then, a near-perfect year for a network that is growing into maturity.

Though MindShare was a clear winner in this category, Omnicom's OMD network also deserves praise. Still relatively new as a global network, OMD had a strong year in terms of the work it produced and new initiatives for clients. Led by the chief executive, Joe Uva, who joined the agency three years ago from Turner Broadcasting, OMD successfully bedded in its global McDonald's win and continued to launch in new markets. One of the most recent examples was the launch of an OMD New Zealand office.

But it was the standard of OMD's work that shone through. It was the most-awarded media agency in the world, according to the first ever Gunn Report for Media, with work from markets as diverse as Chile, Turkey and the US among its best. OMD Chile scooped the Grand Prix at the Cannes Media Awards for its work on Cristal Beer while OMD Turkey's work for Apple iPod was also awarded.

OMD continued to build a reputation as a genuine network. Uva has assembled a team of formidable local managers, including Colin Gottlieb in Europe and Page Thompson in the US, and Omnicom has invested heavily in building the network, though Asia is still an area of comparative weakness.

The promotion of Nick Manning to chief executive of OMD Group in the UK marked an intention to build its offering in another significant market and the creation of the OPera buying unit, a joint venture with sister agency PHD, was a move towards providing a stronger buying operation for clients.

Omnicom now has a network capable of winning the large global assignments and of competing in the top markets.

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