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MediaCom Tackles Major Reorganization

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NEW YORK MediaCom is aggressively reshaping its organizaton. The changes are being shepherded by Doug Checkeris, recently promoted to North American CEO of the WPP-owned shop. Key components include integrating digital throughout the shop's offering; a realignment of clients into five core clusters, each of which will be overseen by a member of the shop's executive committee; and reshaping and strengthening capabilities such as insights and planning, search, events and promotions and branded entertainment.

Before Checkeris' arrival, the shop had hit a rough patch, losing two important clients, K-Mart and Danone, in 2006. MediaCom's U.S. revenues were flat that year, when average revenue growth among the major media agencies grew 13 percent.

By the end of 2007, however, the shop had scored a major coup, convincing its biggest buying client, GlaxoSmithKline, to consolidate its $1 billion planning account at the agency as well. Revenue improved significantly last year, up 20 percent to $238 million, per Adweek estimates.

Earlier this year, it was awarded the $200 million New Line business and was also selected to manage the media piece of the $4.5 billion global Dell full-service account won by WPP in December 2007. Two months ago, the shop landed the $90 million Discover Financial account after a review.

The revenue outlook for this year is pretty rosy, Checkeris said. He declined to provide specific figures. However, growing the top line will be very challenging next year. "But you've got to find a way," because investors expect it, he said.

Part of the strategy involves "value reengineering." This means talking with clients to make sure that both sides are in agreement that the services the agency is providing are beneficial. Those discussions are ongoing and have led, in some cases, to revamping client relationships, and the mix of services offered to them. What those talks specifically are not about "is doing the same amount of work for less money," a procurement tactic that many marketers try to impose to cut costs, Checkeris said.

The downturn in the economy has helped to spur those client talks.

"This is not a time to sit back and pull ourselves into our little turtle shell and hope all these winds of change blow over and we'll reemerge sometime later," he said. "We really have to aggressively look at how we continue to reshape ourselves and our relationships with our clients."

The plans also call for new office space. In about a year, close to 500 MediaCom staffers will move out of their cramped Manhattan headquarters where, the joke goes, you have to factor in 20 minutes of elevator waiting time for meetings on other floors.

Checkeris has spent sizeable chunks of time over the past three months huddled with architects and a design team. The new digs will be housed in the same building as sister shop Mindshare in New York's garment district.

A loft-like space will serve as a combination auditorium, caf