Walmart’s $2bn media for Haworth is a win for WPP

WPP has bounced back in the US media wars after a number of recent reverses, landing Walmart’s massive $2bn media account at 49 per cent owned retail specialist Haworth. Haworth formerly handled Walmart rival Target which has found a new home at new media agency Arrow Partners, formed by WPP’s GroupM.

So WPP, it might be said, now has 149 per cent of the US’s two biggest supermarket chains as opposed to 49 per cent.

Walmart was formerly handled by Publicis Media’s Mediavest. Publicis Communications however recently won Walmart’s creative business from The Martin Agency, promising all sorts of bells and whistles on top of ads. As is Haworth it seems. Walmart CMO Tony Rogers says: “Haworth will play a number of roles for the Walmart U.S. marketing team, well beyond those of a traditional media agency. These roles include media planning and placement, strategy for brand integrations and strategic partnerships in the marketing, media and entertainment arenas. Haworth’s expertise in delivering compelling media solutions, combined with their positioning in the media and entertainment industry, will make them a tremendous resource for us.”

Which sounds like a turf war or two in the offing but such is the nature of these byzantine new media arrangements. Media agencies and creative agencies, even in cases where they’re both owned by the same holding company (which they aren’t here) are busily trying to eat each others’ lunches with the main argument being over “strategy”, or planning as we used to call it.

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In such cases it would seem sensible to put both business streams into the same overall company, as Walmart subsidiary Asda has done in the UK with the re-appointment of creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi alongside Blue449, formerly Walker Media. Both are owned by Publicis. Full service in other words, although it’s never likely to be called that now, such is the rivalry between media and creative agencies.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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