IPG’s Marriage Of Media Equals

New Unit To Span 35 Countries; APL, Lowe May Move Buying
NEW YORK–In creating its media giant, the Interpublic Group of Cos. has also opened its doors to the world’s first global media-holding company, which is set to welcome several other units under its wing.
IPG last week unveiled Western:Initiative Media Worldwide, with $10 billion in overall billings [Adweek, Oct. 5] creating an umbrella organization that pools two stand-alone media companies: U.S. based Western International Media and Paris-based Initiative Media Worldwide.
Western:Initiative is the world’s largest media player. Its growth will be fueled by adding billings from other IPG agencies. The unit, which will span 35 countries, also claims over 1,000 clients, including Unilever and The Walt Disney Co. McCann-Erickson has chosen not to participate, but Lowe Group and Ammirati Puris Lintas Worldwide are expected to move some or all of their buying, sources said.
Other IPG-aligned shops are likely to take advantage of the new network’s resources, including Campbell-Ewald Advertising, Warren, Mich; Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis;
Hill, Holiday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston; and Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles. Hill, Holliday vice chairman Joe Norberg said the shop could gain notice “particularly on providing Internet and international [media] capabilities Whatever we do, it will be client-driven.”
Unlike in a merger of competitors, the Western:Initiative union stands a better chance of success, said management. “We’re merging two media independents, not media departments of agencies,” said Larry Lamattina, CEO of Western. “Cultural differences are far less severe, and geographic turf doesn’t collide. It’s an easier marriage.” In the U.S., Western:Initiative will operate separate divisions under the Western, Media Inc. and The Media Partnership banners to avoid conflict. Overseas units will keep their names and report to Marie-Josƒ Forissier.
“The holding company concept that IPG pioneered in the ad business is the model we are applying to the media business,” said Michael Kassan, president and co-CEO of Western’s U.S. operations.
IPG executives said that although some back-office and systems consolidation could result, the company does not foresee many layoffs.
Omnicom is also working on a similar concept, through its global media arm, Omnicom Media Direction.