Universal McCann Keeps Sony Pictures In The Frame

LOS ANGELES–Universal McCann here has successfully defended its $250 million-plus Sony Pictures Entertainment media buying business, according to sources.

The 14-year incumbent kept its show business credentials after a protracted six-month review that also included Starcom, Chicago, and The Media Edge/MindShare, New York, in the final round.

The review began at the beginning of this year [Adweek, Jan. 8] after distribution chief Jeff Blake added marketing to his duties following the departure of Bob Levin, Sony president of worldwide marketing.

At the time, the studio was looking to review options as its current contract with UM was coming to a close, but the review soon spiraled into a debate about consolidating media responsibilities for all of Sony’s units, including Sony Electronics (handled in the U.S. by The Media Edge out of its Irvine, Calif., office), Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment America and the studio. That delayed a decision, and an official resolution was put off further as the upfront approached.

In the end, while top executives of several global networks, including WPP and Publicis, made presentations to Sony executives about consolidating media, the review was never expanded beyond the theatrical business.

“You look at every piece of studio business and they all have dedicated [media partners],” said one source. “The category is highly volatile and reactive. It’s not run the way [most categories] run their media operations.”

Universal McCann declined to comment. Blake was unavailable for comment.