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Publicis turns Walker Media into ‘open source’ Blue 449

Some of us wondered why Publicis Grouipe shelled out £35m to buy 75 per cent of Walker Media from M&C Saatchi (Publicis already has media networks ZenithOptimedia and Starcom, both rather larger than Walker Media).

Now the grand plan, if such it be, has emerged: a third media network called Blue 449. Even by agency standards this a weird-sounding name; apparently Blue 449 references the ‘colour wavelength’ between the ‘purple’ brand of Walker (is that royal purple?) and the blue of Zenith. So now you know.

Blue 449’s bosses will still be Walker’s Phil Georgiadis and Simon Davis with PG’s Sebastian Danet as overall boss.

Zenith CEO Steve King says: “Blue 449 is a realisation of visionary attitudes and thinking set to disrupt the market.”

Blue 449 also describes itself as “the open source media agency.” Heaven knows what that means. Usually it means the services offered are free, although that seems unlikely in this case.

When Publicis bought Walker (which now no longer exists) the obvious thing to do seemed to be to merge it into one or the other of its media networks to pep them up a bit. In recent years most big media accounts have headed towards WPP’s GroupM, Omnicom’s OMG or Carat.

A third network has the obvious benefit of sidestepping account conflicts although Blue 449 still looks rather like an offshoot of Zenith. But Publicis presumably knows what it’s doing. Although it’s had a rocky 18 months following the collapse of the mooted $35bn merger with Omnicom, boss Maurice Levy found $3.7bn of shareholders’ money to spend on US tech business Sapient and the holding company still enjoys 18 per cent margins, the biggest in the industry.

Wonder what clients make of all this stuff – are they impressed? Or do they see it as just more smoke and mirrors?

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