MediaVest Reorg Is A Sign Of The Times

Convinced that their planning, buying and research models are outdated, U.S. media agencies are taking a long, hard look at their organizations. Last week, Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest USA made one of the most sweeping changes yet, reorganizing its senior-management team under four managing directors, who will form an executive committee reporting to CEO Laura Desmond.

Advancing are director of product planning Richard Beaven, who will drive the shop’s communication-planning discipline; evp Bill Tucker, 44, head of the Kraft team, who will spearhead client-services development; and president of U.S. broadcast Donna Speciale, 41, who will head the shop’s broadcast and programming arms. Joining from sister shop Starcom in Chicago is evp, media director Lisa Donohue, 39, who will oversee integrated communications.

“This is not window dressing,” said Desmond. “We have to get ready for the next generation of media service. The next battleground is holistic channel planning.”

MediaVest’s top clients, including Coca-Cola, Masterfoods, Kraft and Procter & Gamble, are at the forefront of the trend toward an all-inclusive media approach. (The shop is competing as part of the Starcom MediaVest Group team in P&G’s $2.5 billion communications-channel-planning review.)

Other agencies have made similar moves. Interpublic Group’s Universal McCann is hiring account planners, and sister Initiative dropped “Media” from its name last year to symbolize its new mission. Publicis’ Optimedia USA has managing directors charged with making integration work.

But some are skeptical. Erwin Ephron, partner in Ephron, Papazian & Ephron in New York, said planners do not know how to handle planning across all media at a time when TV can’t do it all. “Synergy is great when media doesn’t overlap, but we should be thinking about deintegrating media planning,” he said.