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Will WPP’s Proctor re-emerge to lead the fightback against media agency investigators?

Who’d be the boss of big media agency now? Pesky clients are getting peskier, in the US especially, investigating their own media deals in the light of the Association of National Advertisers’ findings (if findings they be, hard to tell as no-one was on the record) that media buying is anything but transparent.

Ebiquity and K2, the two consultancies involved in the ANA research, have launched their own initiatives on the back of it: Ebiquity partnering with law firm Reed Smith to offer a contract service and K2 offering to help marketers “detect, prevent and remediate” the alleged damage caused by some existing agency arrangements.

All of which promises more hassle at best and nasty personal and corporate consequences at worst.

It was recently announced that Dominic Proctor (below), president of WPP’s giant GroupM media trading arm, was stepping down to be replaced by Kelly Clark, one-time boss of GroupM’s North America operations. Proctor, it was reported, would be some kind of consultant.


Indeed he is, it seems, but insiders say he’s going to working out of WPP’s Farm Street HQ, with a WPP title, to help Sir Martin Sorrell’s empire head off these perceived threats.

Trouble has been brewing between WPP and Ebiquity in particular for years now. Sorrell has said repeatedly that they’re not really auditors, why not get a big five auditing firm to do the job properly.

But Ebiquity, K2 and, no doubt, others who can see a burgeoning mini-industry are now arming themselves with “proper” accountants and lawyers, which raises the stakes considerably. The amiable and popular Proctor might be seen as abandoning the frying pan for the fire.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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