Havas Kicks Off Integration of Media Departments

SFM/Media Planning has dropped its initials and will now be called Media Planning, taking the name of owner Havas’ Barcelona, Spain-based global media network. Steve Farella, SFM COO, becomes CEO of Media Planning in the U.S., and SFM co-founder Bob Frank becomes vice chairman of the French holding company’s media operations in America.

The name change reflects the accelerating absorption of the media departments of Havas’ U.S. agencies into Media Planning. When this process is completed at the end of this year, Farella said, Media Planning will add an additional $1 billion in U.S. billings to its existing $2 billion, placing it among the top 10 U.S. media agencies.

Currently, only the media planning and buying operations of Jordan McGrath Case & Partners Euro RSCG in New York have fully shifted to Farella’s purview. But integration of media into Media Planning has also begun at Havas shops Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmet terer/Euro RSCG in New York, Euro RSCG Tatham in Chicago, Arnold in Boston and a.k.a. Euro RSCG in San Francisco.

“We are taking a smart, slow, steady course in adopting the media people at the other agencies,” said Farella. “We don’t see any conflicts, and if we run into them, we will manage them with our clients.”

Independently owned SFM Media, which shared several clients with Havas shops, including MCI International, was purchased by Havas in 1998. Havas entered into a working agreement with Media Planning Group in 1999, as the cornerstone of a global media network, and earlier this month it completed its acquisition of MPG. In July 2000, SFM Media changed to SFM/Media Planning.

“Our first action in 2000 was to give a vision to this company from being an isolated independent to thinking of ourselves as a leading media agency in the market,” added Farella. “Now, after a year of new people and a nice growth track record, we’re fully adopting our global name.”

SFM added the $140 million Reckitt Benck iser pharmaceutical business last year, and, with Havas sister JMC&P, added the $50 million ING Group financial-services account.

Also last year, several executives joined the shop, including evp, director of integrated services Jeri Dack and HR head Pat Teberg. Daryl-Ann Saunders