MindShare B+


Billings rose 26% to $8.2 billion (compared with combined $6.5 billion recorded by component shops Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson in 1999). Estimated revenue up 26% to $315 million. Most productive staff in U.S. Wins included Unilever’s $800 million account (not reflected in 2000 numbers) and $300 million in additional Sears business. Lost Kohl’s ($90 million).


Like most media agencies, MindShare North America didn’t have a particularly smooth birth. But the shop had CEO Irwin Gotlieb, the most intimidating intellect in the media-agency business. Plus, the JWT/Ogilvy network buying union, the Alliance, served as a dress rehearsal for what would become MindShare. Add some well-respected executives like Jean Pool and Marc Goldstein, who joined from GM Mediaworks, mix well, and the result is an impressive first full year in the U.S. market.


It wasn’t MindShare’s buying clout that won Unilever; the client’s brand people stood by their planning shop. Another client the agency pitched acknowledged that its research and proprietary tools were better than those of other major players. Not as celebrated as Starcom’s planning abilities, perhaps, but more than good enough.


The Alliance experiment was only a qualified success. Still, MindShare has enough size and strength to do a good job for its clients on what Gotlieb likes to call the “implementation” side of the business.


MindShare did not totally avoid the inter necine warfare that has plagued some of its competitors, and it still has some work to do at its offices around the country. Still, it was able to get through the birthing process intact, probably because there was no question who was boss: Gotlieb. Plus, the agency enjoys the support of its holding-company parent and fields an all-star team of media professionals at its top levels. Now it has to avoid the sophomore slump.