Western Gains New Identity; Splits to 5 Units

One of Southern California’s most prominent agency names was retired last week, as Western Initiative Media changed its name to Initiative Media North America and reorganized into five regional offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and here.
At the media agency, which has offices on the Sunset Strip here, a client roster led by The Walt
Disney Co. and a patriarch with connections, the debut played well internally.
At an early morning videoconference for its 1,600 staffers nationwide, Initiative chairman and CEO Lou Schultz symbolically ushered in a new era by taking off his tie to demonstrate the shop’s new business-casual dress policy, declaring that Initiative, one of the top three media agencies in the world, was committed to looking forward, not back.
When Western founder Dennis Holt sold the agency–the world’s first media-buying service when it began in 1970–to Interpublic Group in 1994, he said the future belonged to global media shops. In 1999, when IPG merged Western with its European media arm, Initiative, the future got closer.
Last week, it arrived. The agency chose the name Initiative because, Schultz said, a study revealed that “Western by itself has a great heritage but elsewhere it means nothing.” The logo and typeface used abroad also will be used in the U.S.
He added the five regions will operate with great authority but with a collective goal–to increase revenues by 20 percent annually.
The regions will be contained within two super-regions, East and West, which will have their own managers, who have not yet been named, sources said.