WPP tries to bridge media and creative with Calcraft’s MediaCom Creative Systems

Wasn’t life easier when creative and media sat in the same agency? OK, the media types were sometimes treated like serfs (or thought they were), left with five minutes or so at the end of pitches and presentations (so they often didn’t get on at all.)

A buccaneering band of media execs broke away to do their own thing (inspired partly by the Gross brothers’ media broking business in France, the original Carat) and agency margins have been heading downhill ever since. Most of these outfits have been bought by the big ad holding groups.

No big agency group has seemed to want to put the two completely back together though (sending clients lots of different invoices has its attractions) although there have been various hybrid offers. WPP’s giant media agency MediaCom has come up with another one, Mediacom Creative Systems, headed by former Mother founder Stef Calcraft. Calcraft has ventured into these waters before in a one-year stint at Dentsu Aegis Network, now Dentsu International and the owner of….Carat.


Calcraft (above) says: “We have entered a new era of creativity where relevance sits at the heart of every CEO and CMO’s growth ambitions. But to drive relevance requires different ways of working and a transformed combination of creative solutions.

“The creative potential of the data and insights available to media agencies is groundbreaking, but it is largely untapped due to the divide that still too often exists between media and creative. Creative Systems bridges this gap to help accelerate the creative transformation of our clients’ brands and businesses.”

In theory this sounds fine although many creative agencies (including those within WPP) may see it as another attempt by media agencies to eat their lunch. Media agencies employ far more people than creative ones these days and make most holding company money, although their margins have been cut too following the 2016 investigation by the US Association of National Advertisers.

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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.