Omnicom and Publicis Groupe Big Winners in $2.2 Billion Disney Media Review

The review encompassed all the company's properties, including 20th Century Fox

A smartphone with a screen open that says "The Walt Disney Company"
Winners in the Disney media review were announced today.
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The happiest client on Earth has shifted its global media business.

Disney concluded the global media review it launched back in May by sending the majority of the account to Omnicom and Publicis Groupe.

The review, conducted by MediaLink, initially included six agencies from across four holding companies, as well as independent media agency Horizon. WPP withdrew from the pitch in the U.S., citing a conflict of interest with client Comcast, but remained in contention for the APAC region, according to a source with direct knowledge of the review.

Omnicom created a bespoke unit called OMG23 for the review, in reference to Disney’s founding year of 1923, drawing talent and resources from across the Omnicom network. Disney awarded its North America movie studios account, including Disney Studios, Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox, to OMG23, as well as its media channels in North America—which include Disney Channel, ABC, FX, Freeform and Nat Geo, sources with direct knowledge of the review told Adweek. This does not include ESPN, which remains with Publicis Groupe.

In an internal memo obtained by Adweek, Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun announced that the holding company had been awarded Disney’s media account in its entirety across EMEA, APAC, LatAm, while expanding on its existing relationship on ESPN in North America, to include media duties for Disney+ and Disney Parks & Resorts.

Sources with knowledge of the review said that WPP retained media duties for India. One source with knowledge of the account explained that a large share of media buying for Disney+ and Disney Parks & Resorts is programmatic buying handled in-house by Disney.

“This was the most important pitch of the year. Disney were looking for an innovative, future-proof agency model to support the vision and demands of their business,” Sadoun said in the memo.

He explained that Publicis Groupe created a bespoke unit called Publicis Imagine for the account, which largely relied on “seamlessly combining Zenith’s media expertise, and the firepower of Epsilon’s unmatched data offering.”

Sources with knowledge of the review cited Publicis Groupe offering data capabilities via Epsilon as a significant factor in the decision. One source with knowledge of the review claimed that Publicis Groupe’s ability to include its data offering without expanding costs was another significant factor, while another source disputed this characterization.

Disney spent around $1.525 billion globally last year, according to global data consultancy COMvergence. A source with knowledge of the account estimated the size of the assignment as considerably more substantial, around $2.2 billion, with the addition of Disney+ and 20th Century Fox properties.

The majority of this spending is in the U.S., where Kantar Media estimates Disney spent nearly $1.3 billion last year across all its properties. According to Kantar Media, the majority of spending was devoted to the studio entertainment properties (over $668 million) and media networks (nearly $259 million), with around $188 million spent on direct-to-consumer, $153 million on parks and experiences and a little under $28 million on consumer products.

Outside the U.S., Disney spent an estimated $30 million in Latin America, $300 million in EMEA and $170 million in APAC, according to COMvergence.

Omnicom refuted details regarding controversial financial terms of the review previously reported by MediaPost, including an alleged “share shift” for agency clients to more Disney properties.

“We can confirm that there are no conditions regarding spending commitments, share-shifts or any other investment endeavors,” an Omnicom spokesperson told Adweek in a statement. “The investment recommendations of our agencies are always made in the best interests of our clients—premium content providers like Disney stand on their own merit.”

The review should help reverse new business fortunes for the two holding companies whose media agencies struggled to win new business in the first half of 2019. Of the five major holding companies, Publicis Media and Omnicom Media Group ranked last in COMvergence’s first-half new business report for media agency groups (Omnicom’s OMD was the runner-up for individual agencies, however).

For Publicis Groupe, the assignment follows Novartis consolidating its $600 million global media account with the holding company, another appointment for which Epsilon played a significant role.

The news also comes on the heels of a sharp drop in Publics Groupe’s market value last week after reporting disappointing Q3 organic revenue.

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