Publicis Forms Team to Pitch Disney

While Starcom—the incumbent agency on the $1 billion Disney media assignment that went into review last month—isn’t defending, its parent company Publicis is creating a team to pitch the business, according to sources.

The so-called “holding company solution” is being orchestrated by Jack Klues, CEO of VivaKi, the unit that manages Publicis’ media agencies, which also include MediaVest, Optimedia, Zenith Media (handles Fox) and digital shops Razorfish and Digitas. Sources said that the Disney pitch team members are being cherry-picked from several of those entities (but not Zenith).

At least one other holding company—Omnicom—is taking a similar approach in creating a team to pitch the Disney business, per sources. Omnicom Media Group, headed by CEO Daryl Simm, is overseeing the process. The group’s agencies include OMD (conflicted out of Disney because of Universal Studios) and PHD, as well as Outdoor Media Group, search specialist Resolution Media and print/digital specialist Novus, among others.

Other contenders, per sources, include Aegis Group’s Carat and WPP’s Mindshare. Both shops have film studio experience. Carat handled New Line before losing it to MediaCom a few years back, when New Line parent Warner Bros. consolidated the business within one shop, MediaCom, without a review. Carat also won boutique distributor Relativity Media (The Social Network) last fall. Mindshare handled Fox before losing it to Zenith in early 2007, and subsequently picked up the smaller Summit Entertainment, packager of the Twilight vampire flicks.

The shops either didn’t return calls or referred queries to the client. A representative there didn’t return a call by deadline.

Disney confirmed putting its media assignment into review on Dec. 2. The company spent more than $1 billion on media in 2009 and about $500 million in the first half of this year, according to Kantar Media.

The review covers the movie studio operation, theme parks and TV. In 2010, Walt Disney Studios hired agency veteran M.T. Carney to run its marketing operation. She oversees all aspects of worldwide marketing and distribution for the studio, covering both the Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures banners. Previously, Carney co-founded Naked in New York, the communications planning specialist. Before that, she was worldwide planning director at Ogilvy & Mather.