WPP is taking its first major step towards establishing a single
worldwide media buying network by pooling TV negotiations for its
Ogilvy and Mather and J. Walter Thompson agencies in the US.
JWT and O&M are understood to be preparing to test the viability of
joint TV buying by centralising advanced network TV airtime
negotiations this spring. The two agencies together spend dollars 1.3
billion on network TV, and the centralised pot would roughly equal the
size of the two biggest TV buyers in the US - Zenith Media and
The majority of TV advertising commitments in the US are laid down on
an annual basis well in advance of the ads appearing on air. The
experiment with the spring negotiations could develop into a fully
fledged joint operation if successful.
However, there are some client conflict problems that still have to be
resolved, such as the clash between JWT’s Sprint Corp and O&M’s GTE
Nevertheless, the plans represent the first tangible signal that WPP is
laying foundations for a global media network. WPP’s chief executive,
Martin Sorrell, has made no secret of his desire to pool the media
operations of his two international agencies to achieve critical
JWT and O&M have already established a joint media operation in Taiwan
and are said to be planning a similar venture in Canada. In the UK, the
Network - O&M’s media brand - is thought to remain sceptical of the
viability of combining with JWT’s media department.
Ron de Pear, JWT Europe’s media director, and the agency’s assistant
European media director, Tim Drysdale, are understood to have prepared
proposals for a joint European operation, and are said to be awaiting a
response from the Network.
No-one at either JWT or O&M in the US was prepared to comment as
Campaign went to press.