More media pain for WPP as Vodafone calls global review

Another day, another big media review at WPP it seems. Vodafone is reported to be reviewing its global media planning and buying, worth somewhere between £400-600m, at WPP media agency Wavemaker (formerly MEC.)

Earlier this week it emerged that Wavemaker, the incumbent on L’Oreal, had made it down to the last two as the French beauty giant reviews its £106m UK media.

Vodafone had a WPP-only deal for creative and media during the Sir Martin Sorrell era. Sorrell’s forte was striking such deals with client CEOs. UK creative is with WPP’s Ogilvy.

In a warning shot, Vodafone took its digital media buying in-house last year.

Wavemaker is the result of a Sorrell-era merger between WPP’s MEC and Maxus. This was forced in part by MEC losing the giant AT&T media account in the US in 2016, the start of a string of bad news for the marcoms giant.

Such mergers are a risky business with key people departing and clients sometimes unconvinced that they’ve still got the agency they hired in the first place.

WPP and Wavemaker can ill afford to lose either big account. It’s also a poser for WPP’s GroupM media holding company, which handles big media negotiations. GroupM was seemingly all-conquering a few years ago.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.