IPG Mediabrands to Fold BPN Worldwide into Initiative

By Patrick Coffee 

IPG Mediabrands, the media buying wing of the fourth largest global holding company, has begun folding its third media network BPN into its second network, Initiative.

Today an IPG spokesperson wrote: “BPN will continue as an independent brand within IPG Mediabrands, however its operations in the U.S. are being aligned with and will report into Initiative.”

A source with direct knowledge of the matter tells us that BPN now exists in name only, with employees in New York and Chicago relocated into Initiative’s offices and, as mentioned in the statement, reporting to Initiative executives.

Global CEO Rob Kabus left BPN last year, and the network has yet to name a replacement. According to our source, the network initially “collapsed” into IPG’s ID Media and began telling clients several weeks ago that it would begin folding into Initiative. The primary reason for this change, according to the party who spoke to us, was the recent loss of Tyson Foods, which had been one of BPN’s largest clients. On Monday Tyson confirmed that it had moved its $250 million account from BPN to Mindshare after a review.

According to another party, BPN will operate as part of Initiative in much the same way that dedicated media shop J3 is a unit of UM.

Brand Programming Network launched in 2012 in order to allow IPG to pursue more new business without creating conflicts with UM and Initiative clients. At the time, its leadership reported to Orion Trading, another IPG media unit specializing in “financial savings and asset optimization solutions.”

The agency currently has offices in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and employs between 200 and 500 people, according to its LinkedIn page. We have not heard of any downsizing moves related to this change.