Sony Sets Meetings

LOS ANGELES–Presentations begin next week for Sony Corp.’s consolidated $400 million-plus North American media business, sources said, in the first of what will be three regional media consolidations. Sony’s European and Asian media accounts are expected to follow the North American search.

Over the past seven months, Sony corporate and division executives have had a series of meetings exploring the concept of consolidation with top executives of the world’s largest media networks. The list includes Bcom3’s Starcom Mediavest Group; WPP’s MindShare/The Media Edge; Publicis’ Zenith Media; IPG’s Universal McCann; and Omnicom’s OMD. All of the agencies or their sister shops handle Sony business here and abroad.

Sony had indicated to agencies that meetings would be scheduled in September but until the invitations to present were made, the advertiser had not asked agencies for competitive information. Nor had Sony made clear whether it would launch a competition for its media business or simply restructure its roster assignments around the world.

“This is exactly what we hoped would happen,” said one source, “a disciplined course where they’re going to make a decision [on one agency]. They see themselves as one of the few major advertisers who have not consolidated, and they are looking for better media value.”

By far the largest piece of the North American pie is Sony’s motion picture business, currently worth an estimated $300 million-plus and handled by Universal McCann, New York.

OMD works with Sony Playstation creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. The Media Edge handles Sony’s consumer electronics division in the U.S.