Vodafone Selects MEC For $1 Billion Media Planning & Buying Acct.

Telecommunications giant Vodafone has selected WPP’s MEC as its new global media planning and buying shop after a review that began in January.

The company spends an estimated $1 billion on ads annually.

Last month Vodafone pared the list of contenders in its review to two finalists including GroupM’s MEC and Carat, part of the Dentsu Aegis Network

The incumbent, OMD -- which held the account for most of the last dozen years -- did not advance to the final round, sources confirmed.

Vodafone’s last global media review came in 2009 when OMD prevailed over Carat.

WPP has a dedicated unit called Team Red that handles Vodafone’s creative advertising. Creative duties are not currently in review.

The agencies in the media review declined to comment or could not be reached. A Vodafone rep could not be immediately reached for comment.

Vodafone, based in the UK, provides service throughout much of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. Until last year, it held a 50% stake in Verizon Wireless, but sold the stake to Verizon for a reported $130 billion.

In January when it confirmed the review, the company said: “Vodafone has decided to review its existing media planning and buying agency arrangements. The move comes five years after the last global review in keeping with good corporate practice, and following the advancements in the media and digital landscape.”

Vodafone’s agency selection comes at a time when the European telecommunications market is consolidating and Vodafone is considered an acquisition candidate by some industry followers.

In January AT&T -- which had been considering a bid for Vodafone -- said it would not do so for at least six months. According to reports, AT&T had considered an offer of approximately $115 billion for Vodafone.

And some analysts believe AT&T’s interest in Vodafone has not faded and that another six months gives it more time to prepare. “Our view remains that AT&T remains interested in European mobile assets and is likely to target Vodafone later in the year,” Nomura Securities analyst James Britton told Bloomberg.

An AT&T acquisition of Vodafone could be a boon for MEC, which also serves as AT&T’s media shop. That said, AT&T consolidated its media assignment with MEC in October of 2007, and like many marketers could call a review at any time as part of an assessment of all the change that occurred in media over the last six-and-a-half years. 

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