L’Oreal Sends Its Media Business to WPP’s MEC After an 8-Month Review

Incumbents included UM and DigitasLBi

The American wing of French cosmetics giant L'Oreal has chosen WPP's MEC as its new media agency of record after a review that lasted eight months.

The L'Oreal USA review began in April after Nadine Karp McHugh, svp of omni media, strategic investments and creative solutions, joined the company from Colgate-Palmolive. It pitted MEC against incumbents UM and DigitasLBi, among others.

"MEC brings a shared vision for the future of our ever-changing business, strong digital expertise and leadership with truly integrated teams built for us, and the tools and technology to develop omnimedia solutions," Karp McHugh told Adweek.

Moving forward, MEC will handle integrated media planning and buying for TV, print and digital. Those responsibilities had been split between Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi (digital) and IPG's UM (TV and print). The larger GroupM—which includes MEC as well as MediaCom, Mindshare and other WPP units—will oversee consolidated buying duties for the client. Karp McHugh said, "Combined with the buying power of GroupM, we believe that we've found the perfect partner to help us co-create the future of beauty along with our media partners."

"We are delighted by the appointment and the opportunity to expand upon our already strong relationship with L'Oréal, a leader with a deep heritage of innovation in beauty for all," said MEC's North American CEO Marla Kaplowitz. She added, "Our agency's data and insights-led planning approach to media will ensure each brand's vision is fully realized as we partner to further define the future of marketing."

The win follows MetLife's October decision to consolidate a majority of the buying and planning duties tied to its $100M U.S. business with MEC. There was no review for that account.

UM and Omnicom Media Group have been two of the biggest winners in the year-long round of media reviews insiders have referred to as "Mediapalooza," with OMG picking up P&G's business earlier this week in a win big enough to prompt the creation of a separate media network. The L'Oreal decision also marks another loss for Publicis Groupe, which announced an internal restructuring initiative before the P&G decision came down this week.

Kantar Media estimates L'Oreal, which includes such top beauty brands as Maybelline and Lancôme, spent $870 million on media in 2014, a slight decline from the $930 million it spent the year before. 

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