Will $1bn Microsoft pitch turn out to be the expected global shoot-out between Omnicom/Publicis and WPP?

Unknown-3My friend George Parker’s spies tell him that Microsoft’s mega-$1bn media account is headed to WPP which, if correct of course, will be a blow to both Interpublic (IPG’s UM handles Microsoft outside the US and not that much else) and Omnicom/Publicis (as it hopes to be) which is strong on the creative front (BBDO, DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and others) and in digital but is a touch under-powered on the Publicis media side of things with Starcom MediaVest and ZenithOptimedia.

At least it is in comparison to WPP’s GroupM empire which consists of media agencies Maxus, MediaCom, MEC and Mindshare plus huge out of home specialist Kinetic.

These predictions could be confounded of course; Aegis-owned Carat is reported to be in the running for the media account while IPG could yet surprise us all.

The Microsoft review involves creative as well as media but the company, with its numerous brands including Windows, Xbox and Nokia, might well opt for a roster arrangement rather than putting all its eggs in one holding company basket. Other big advertisers like Coca-Cola, Kraft and Mondelez run, in effect, project-based rosters without, it seems, any diminution in their creative impact.

Either way the Microsoft review is building into what looks like a shoot-out between the two global behemoths Omnicom/Publicis and WPP. WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell will be keen to show that his company still packs the most effective global punch even though Omnicom/Publicis will be bigger.

An interesting sidelight to all this is IPG and its share price. IPG is currently valued at $7.42bn but that is likely to fall if Microsoft walks and it has to downsize its global media operation.

Maurice Levy’s Publicis Groupe was interested in IPG last year but stepped back when the news leaked and the IPG price shot up. He then embarked on the merger with Omnicom. Sorrell has let it be known that he thinks IPG is too expensive. But if the price should drop….

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