Now Mercedes joins the global media agency merry-go-round

Hard on the heels of Mercedes’ a big creative review which chose Publicis Groupe – outside the US, China and Germany which is quite a large exception – the German luxury car maker is also reported to be looking for a new media agency. Omnicom handles the business in the US and WPP’s Wavemaker (formerly MEC) elsewhere.

Mercedes is a volume player these days so finds itself up against the likes of VW too. Just about every car company on the planet has been reviewing creative and media agencies over the past few years and, at the moment, VW is looking for one or more creative agency partners for four new regional advertising ‘hubs” while $4bn Ford is threatening to take at least some of its business out of WPP’s bespoke GTB operation. VW moved its £2bn media account from WPP’s MediaCom to Omnicom’s PHD a couple of years ago.

As the big car companies still think they need the services of the big ad holding companies a problem emerges: there aren’t enough of them to avoid the issue of account conflict. All of them have some form of car account even though they often employ nifty footwork to try to sidestep the issue. Publicis formed a new agency called Emil to handle Mercedes as it already works on Renault and VW-owned Skoda (also reviewing).

If Ford does depart WPP it will have to go somewhere that already has a big car client: Publicis, Omnicom which handles VW in most markets, Interpublic which is General Motors’ agency in the US (surely they wouldn’t wear that) or, far less likely, Dentsu which can only really field Mcgarrybowen in the creative stakes. Mcgarrybowen shouldn’t be ruled out though, in the US particularly. But Dentsu handles GM’s global media. So it’s a tangled web.

Media assignments tend to be more pragmatic as the driver behind most big media reviews is cost. So Mercedes can probably take its pick of the bunch. It spends around $1bn worldwide so it’s a worthy prize. Publicis must fancy its chances.

Money talks in nearly all business matters and maybe it’s the driver behind a new client/agency world where account conflict is no longer regarded as an impassable obstruction.

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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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