JWT, Ogilvy Inch Closer

WPP Agencies Study Media Research Merger
NEW YORK–J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather have formed a steering committee to investigate ways of pooling media research functions under their existing buying alliance, sources said.
The move is consistent with WPP Group chief Martin Sorrell’s vision of achieving consolidation efficiencies but, sources said, is quietly opposed by the individual agencies, which still see each other as rivals.
Since the alliance was created last year to leverage more than $2 billion in clout for the upfront, there has been speculation as to whether the two agencies’ broadcast departments might merge, as they did in Asia and Europe, and tout the merger as point of difference for clients.
The steering committee consists of JWT national broadcast group director Ron Frederick, JWT director of North American media buying services Jean Pool, Ogilvy U.S. media director Larry Cole, Ogilvy president of U.S. broadcast and programming Peter Chrysanthopoulos and research chiefs David Marans (at JWT) and Jon Swallen (at Ogilvy).
Support for the effort will be provided by the Kantar Group, WPP Group’s branded global media research, information and consulting arm, sources said.
Executives at the agencies said that discussing their research plans was “premature” and denied that the two media departments will shortly merge.
Some sources also contended the agencies should fix existing problems –some TV networks tried to play the two against each other at the upfront –before proceeding further.