Go-go Carat wins Mastercard media from IPG’s UM

UnknownDentsu/Aegis (or should that be Aegis/Dentsu?) media agency Carat has won Mastercard’s $250m global media business, beating off a selection of medialand’s finest including PHD, MediaVest, yet another team from WPP (GroupM in other words) and incumbent UM, owned by Interpublic.

This is all rather angst-making for UM, which is also facing a review of its $600m or so Microsoft business outside the US as part of the tech giant’s review of everything including creative.

It will also ring alarm bells at IPG, as most of UM’s business is allied to creative assignments and IPG’s McCann handles the lucrative Mastercard account. The relationship between McCann and Mastercard can hardly be strengthened by Mastercard departing UM, although it could have been worse – a win for WPP’s GroupM for example. UM keeps Mastercard in Latin America, where it does seem to be strong.

As for Carat, it’s been on a roll since owner Aegis sold to Dentsu. In fact Aegis, which also has digital agency Isobar and mini-Carat Vizeum, is looking rather more important in the greater scheme of things than Dentsu with its eponymous ‘creative’ agency and US-based Mcgarrybowen.

Carat was founded back in the day by the buccaneering French Gross brothers, who were media brokers rather than media planners and buyers. This lucrative practice (of buying space from media owners and flogging it to clients at a profit) was frowned on by the rest of the world – it was formally banned in the UK.

But, as the media world changes into a primarily digital marketplace, such trading skills are once more at a premium. All the big media agencies will confirm, on the quiet, that broking is what they do much of the time.

So the media world has turned full circle in many ways. And Carat seems to be profiting mightily.

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