Honda Allegedly Dropped Mediavest Spark Over Trust Issues

By Erik Oster Comment

The U.S. unit of Honda parted ways with Publicis’ Mediavest Spark back in January, sending an account worth nearly $600 million to longtime creative partner RPA. That agency had previously handled media responsibilities before losing the account to Mediavest in a 2013 review.

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal reported that Honda made the decision after a breakdown in trust with its former media agency, caused by “alleged irregularities in how its account was handled.”

Sources familiar with the matter told the publication that Mediavest Spark failed to pay media companies within the expected time frame and that Honda discovered that “money that was meant to pay bonuses to certain agency staffers on the Honda account didn’t get to them.” Honda also felt it was overcharged due to the way Mediavest allocated resources on at least one occasion, again according to sources close to the matter. It’s unclear if any of these issues amounted to breaking the terms of the agency’s contract with Honda.

“Trust is the bedrock of our client-agency relationships,” a Publicis Media spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. “Following discussions with our client, we immediately took steps to address their concerns. We are committed to full compliance with the terms of the client-agency agreements we sign, and we have strict internal rules designed to support that.”

Honda U.S. assistant vice president of marketing operations Tom Peyton told the publication that the media shift could be attributed to a desire to consolidate its account with its existing creative partner, to work with “people who will get into the whole world of programmatic and [data management platform] usage and really understand that and staff it accordingly,” as well as the “changing nature of the media world.”

The news comes, of course, as mistrust over ad buying and spending, particularly in the digital realm, has become a widespread issue. Last summer, the ANA issued a report last June which found “pervasive” use of rebates and kickbacks in the industry.