Omnicom’s giant land grab continues with McDonald’s from Publicis/Burnett

mcdonalds_0There’s no holding Omnicom at the moment: fresh from taking the lead in so-called ‘Mediapalooza’ with its new entity Hearts & Science – new home for AT&T and Procter & Gamble media in the US – it’s now won all of $1bn McDonald’s creative in the US, taking over from 35-year incumbent Leo Burnett.

With what will be yet another, as yet un-named, new entity incorporating DDB, which has been working on McDonald’s alongside Burnett, plus staff from digital agency Critical Mass and Sparks & Honey. Sparks & Honey describes itself as a “content lab” able to ride “cultural waves.” This seems to mean that it’s quicker on its feet (and possibly cheaper) than a conventional agency.

DDB US CEO Wendy Clark, until recently a top Coca-Cola marketer, says: “Exactly 18 weeks ago today, we received a dream brief from one of the most iconic brands in the create ‘the agency of the future.’ The best and the brightest talent across multiple Omnicom agencies came together over the last four months to create, operationalize and deliver on that brief.

“The result is a customized agency built with intelligence at the core, to fuel brilliant creative work, that’s delivered at the speed of the marketplace at an efficient cost. We are thrilled and honored to be selected and excited about immediately creating impact for McDonald’s business.”

Look like another case of supposed big data coming to the fore, as in Hearts & Science’s big media wins. The notion, in agency land, was invented by WPP which declined to pitch for McDonald’s in a review handled by British consultancy Flock. The main reason for the rush to data-based agency choices is the exponential growth of digital and the realisation by clients that they need some way of deciding which digital avenues to pursue and new ways to do so. Otherwise they end up spending a fortune.

McDonald’s is clearly trying to save money. It allegedly asked its agencies to pitch on a no-profit basis with some as yet unspecified form of payment by results. This is a slippery slope for creative agency clients. There’s already a raging dispute between advertisers and media agencies who are accused of making money by the back door to make up for low agency fees.

No profit or not, losing McDonald’s is a big blow to Burnett and owner Publicis Groupe which has lost out consistently in the 18-month string of big account reviews. Burnett handles McDonald’s in the UK, for now anyway.

It may also be another nail in the company of holding company-owned agency brands. The really big clients are demanding bespoke solutions these days with individual agencies just providing the personnel.

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