No. 1 Within Ad Land's New No. 1

That’s what she said. The she is Laura Desmond, Global CEO of Publicis’ Starcom MediaVest Group, who jumped on the opportunity to crow when ad industry beancounter RECMA released an analysis showing that SMG is the biggest media buyer in ad land. The question is how No. 2 -- and soon-to-be-SMG-sister-shop -- OMD feels about that.

"We are incredibly proud,” Desmond gushes in the release, noting that it is the third consecutive year that SMG has bested OMD in the annual rankings.

Desmond has a right to brag. With a 2012 media billings growth rate of 13.3%, it expanded well beyond the Madison Avenue average of 10%. Omnicom flagship OMD didn’t do badly, expanding a smidge better than the rest of the industry (10.1%), while No. 3 player -- Publicis’ Zenith Optimedia Group (+8.0%) failed to keep pace with the market at large.

While Omnicom’s other big media network, PHD, did, growing 10.5%, the real star among Madison Avenue’s big media shops is Dentsu’s Carat (+14.1%).



As for the ad industry’s new No. 2 media buyer -- WPP’s GroupM -- it lagged the industry overall, with three of its four networks delivering below market performance: Mindshare (+9.0%), Mediacom (+8.9%), and MEC (+5.8%). The fourth, GroupM’s youngest and fastest growing media brand, Maxus, had an incredible year, with billings soaring 29.8%.

The following memo was translated from French. In full disclosure, Mediapsssst obtained it from imaginary sources.

From: M. Levy

To: The Groupe

Re: The Lotus Position

It is with deep regret and a profound sense of personal loss that I have to write this memo to you. No, it’s not because the Omnicom deal fell through. They haven’t changed the term sheet (snicker). And no regulatory bodies have expressed any interest in blocking it. I am saddened, because this memo is the last I will be sending via Lotus Notes. Let me explain.

First of all, let me tell you that everything you’ve heard about John Wren is true. Everything expect for that tee-shirt story, that is. He is a fierce negotiator and one of the best captains of industry I’ve ever encountered, and when it came to email systems, concessions were made. He simply wore me down.

On the plus side, we got top billing, equal seats on the board, a higher relative per share valuation, and best of all, the ability to have the last laugh over those Brits. On the downside, we lost, long-term management control, Coca-Cola, and of course, the “e” in Groupe.

But none of those compromises cause as much personal remorse as the Lotus decision. “It’s a deal-breaker,” Wren asserted in no uncertain terms, so what could I do? I had to collaborate to get the deal done.

I know not everyone in the organization will share my anguish, that some of you have felt for sometime that Lotus was not the most intuitive platform for a modern day communications company, but it was our non-intuitive platform. You know, viva la difference!

And yes, I know that IBM has also dropped the name de plume, and simply calls it IBM notes, but to me and the rest of the groupe, it will always be Lotus.

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