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MediaVest Merges Buying Operations

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NEW YORK Publicis Groupe's MediaVest has merged its video, print and out-of-home buying units, elevating Donna Speciale to the new post of president, investment and activation, giving her oversight of the combined operation.

Speciale had previously been president of the agency's Video Investment and Activation group since January 2006. She continues to report to Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, the Americas.

Now reporting to Speciale are Robin Steinberg, who oversees print buying, and Norm Chiat, who leads the out-of-home group.

"The benefits of an integrated structure for our clients and agency are clear: It enables best practice sharing across media," said Desmond in a statement. "With the consumer firmly at the center, we are quickly moving away from the commodity of traditional buying and aligning resources against a behavior-focused approach to investment, which is both strategic and quantifiable."

Several media agencies have implemented similar reorganizations to bring the buying units at their shops under one top manager, including Omnicom's PHD, Interpublic Group's Initiative and Publicis' Starcom.

As part of its reorganization, MediaVest also said that Christine Merrifield, formerly group director at MediaVest, has been promoted to the new position of svp, director of VIA and operations. In this role, Merrifield will focus on the operational duties of the VIA unit, and function as strategic management lead on select client businesses including Capital One.

Other key clients at MediaVest include Activision, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Kraft, Masterfoods and UBS.

The agency also said that it has hired Anne Elkins, formerly of WPP's MediaCom, to replace Merrifield as svp, group director with day-to-day buying oversight for clients including Activision, Comcast and UBS.

Commenting on the reorganization, Speciale said, "[It] strengthens the final buying product as the center of ideas and is even more multi-faceted with print and [out-of-home] officially housed" alongside video. "Having a centralized approach to investment better prepares us to make deals based on the reality of the marketplace."