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More stress for Publicis Groupe as Miller Coors and Mars review media at Zenith

Miller Coors, shortly to be separated from SAB Miller if the SAB/AB InBev merger goes through (you’d never know they were brewers would you – some would say they don’t make beer of course) is reviewing its global media. It uses Interpublic’s Initiative in the US, WPP’s MEC in its home territory of Canada and Publicis Groupe’s Groupe’s ZenithOptimedia in the UK.

Zenith is also in the frame as Mars reviews its media buying (media planning is with WPP’s MediaCom globally) in most of the big markets outside the US. Zenith has handled Mars in the UK for 20 years. Mars is one of the UK’s biggest TV advertisers (below) and globally (outside the US) Mars spends about $1.5bn. So far it’s chosen to use different buying agencies in different regions and countries although that may change.


Zenith or another Publicis media agency or the holding company itself may win both these accounts but the reviews, while expected by many as most clients look at their media in the wake of widespread concerns about undisclosed media rebates and other allegedly murky doings, are the last thing Maurice Levy’s company needs. It has lost a string of big media accounts over the past 18 months, including Procter & Gamble’s $2.6bn North America business which went to Omnicom’s new Hearts & Science.

WPP’s MEC may also be a touch twitchy. It lost AT&T’s even bigger US media account, variously estimated at between $3bn to $4bn, in another surprise triumph for Hearts & Science.

WPP’s massive GroupM media trading operation recently brought back former Maxus boss Kelly Clark as CEO, in place of long-serving Brit Dominic Proctor. MEC losing AT&T may have had a part in this. GroupM is also under fire in some quarters for its vexed relations with various other WPP media entities, including the agencies.

It’s far from clear on a global scale who’s in charge of what. Clark’s first job will be to sort this out.

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