Woolmington launches US media planning shop

NEW YORK - Paul Woolmington, the British-born former vice-chairman of WPP's Media Edge Worldwide, is launching what he claims will be the first US media planning shop to embrace creative and account planning.

The new venture -- to be called Media Kitchen -- will work in partnership with the New York agency Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners.

It flies in the face of the current trend for huge buying and planning specialist companies such as WPP's MindShare and Bcom3's Starcom MediaVest.

Woolmington said: "I'm staggered by the extent of the meglomania of all this media consolidation. Creative agencies, and even some clients, are saying 'We're really down the pecking order with these giants'."

Media Kitchen will operate separately from Kirshenbaum but will help the agency's clients decide not only where they should advertise but understand how that choice should influence what they say about their brands.

It will not only service Kirshenbaum's $450 million-billing client list, which includes Revlon, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Liberty Mutual, but hunt for business in other parts of the world either with other agencies or directly with clients.

Media Kitchen, which will be run by "hybrid" staff who have worked in both media and brand planning, has been under development by Woolmington since he left Media Edge in January.

Although the concept is new to the US, it mirrors what has already happened in the UK where a reaction against media consolidation has resulted in smaller operations such as Unity and Michaelides & Bednash offering strategic and brand consulting.