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Omnicom’s new media agency Hearts & Science leads $4bn AT&T raid on WPP

The leader in the great round of mainly US media and creative reviews suddenly looks like Omnicom with WPP, hitherto a strong performer, a surprise loser.

US telecoms giant AT&T, the country’s second biggest advertiser with a spend of nearly $4bn, has moved its media account from WPP’s MEC to Omnicom’s new Hearts & Science while Grey has lost its award-winning DirecTV business to BBDO, which already handled AT&T’s mainstream business.

From nowhere Hearts & Science, originally set up to handle P&G’s $2.6bn media business which it won from Publicis Groupe (or so everybody thought), finds itself billing over $6bn from two mega-clients even though few people outside Omnicom seem to know exactly what it is.

AT&T global CMO Lori Lee says: “Omnicom has brought together one dedicated team representing the best talent across Omnicom to work seamlessly with us to position AT&T as the world’s premier integrated communications company. A single integrated team allows us to move quickly, innovate at scale and take a data-driven, holistic approach to reaching consumers and businesses..(Omnicom’s) capabilities are important as we get ready to launch new streaming video entertainment choices that are built for mobile.”

As far as WPP is concerned this a case of the biter bit. It pioneered bespoke teams (sometimes agencies) for big clients, pulling in people and resources from across the empire. Such an approach is key to Publicis Groupe’s new division into four supposedly client-centric hubs and now Omnicom, which came late to the party, is doing the same thing to considerable effect.

BN-NL712_Hagedo_P_20160408103930It will be interesting to see how when and how the new media agency giant Hearts & Science expands outside the US and who emerges in charge. Global CEO is Scott Hagedorn (left) who moved from Annalect, Omnicom Media Group’s data-based arm. Hearts & Science describes itself as a “date-driven agency that is pioneering the future of how brands and people will interact in the post-media world.”

One might argue with the description “post-media world,” especially as H&S now has $6bn of it to look after, but the proposition seems to be striking a chord with some rather large advertisers.

One Comment

  1. WPP spent three years courting AT&T with “horizontality”. They lost the business the moment Esther Lee left and BBDO realized they could use the c-suite momentum and other OMD consolidations to make this play. That anyone, let alone Sir Martin, believed Grey could move the Dallas and Atlanta mind-meld off BBDO is a joke.

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