WPP’s Maxus bids for the big league with new offices in Los Angeles, Toronto and Mexico City

WPP media buyer Maxus was originally promoted as a ‘conflict shop’, somewhere for clients to go who couldn’t be fitted in to existing WPP media agencies MediaCom, Mindshare and MEC.

But WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell was never going to settle for such a modest objective (he tried it years ago with creative agency network Red Cell and it was a disaster).

So now on the back of mega media wins Comcast (worth up to $1bn) and SC Johnson (about the same but shared with Interpublic’s Initiative) Maxus is opening up in Los Angeles, Toronto and Mexico City.

The new LA office will be headed by MD Pamela Haupert Sullivan (pictured) who has been poached from Omnicom’s DDB Entertainment where she looked after film company Universal while Toronto will be headed by Ann Stewart from WPP’s GroupM. GroupM acts on big negotiations for all WPP’s media agencies. Mexico will be headed by Hugo Gomez from Mindshare.

These developments (and the recent big wins of course) will alarm media rivals who are increasingly outgunned by WPP’s array of big media agencies. Just how big a share of global media planning and buying is WPP aiming for? It must already be over 25 per cent.

Interpublic announced last week that it was to launch a third global media agency after Initiative and Universal McCann, initially in North America, but it’s a big ask to expect an entirely new media agency to build global scale as rapidly as WPP is building its own.

Such concerns will focus attention on the remaining ‘independent’ global media specialist Carat (Carat is owned by Aegis which is currently cash rich after selling market researcher Synovate to Ipsos for £530m) and successful US indie Horizon Media, which lost out in the Comcast switch to Maxus.

WPP probably already has too big a market share in most countries to bid for Carat. Omnicom, Interpublic and Publicis Groupe might be getting more interested though

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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.