Wal-mart Review Spawns Strange Media, Brand Agency Bedfellows

Saatchi & Saatchi's decision to pull out of Wal-mart's massive creative and media-buying account review marks another twist in the closely watched new business pitch. It also reveals some strang media and brand agency bedfellows. Among them, is the fact that Saatchi had been aligned in the pitch with sister Publicis unit MediaVest, a division of Starcom MediaVest Group, whose legacy is with Leo Burnett, not Saatchi, raising questions why Zenith, the media agency spawned by Saatchi, was not on the team.

Other strange combinations have aligned to pitch the consolidated account, which has been serviced for years by Austin-based GSD&M, a unit of Omnicom that is fighting tooth-and-nail to retain the business. GSD&M's media partner makes sense: Omnicom's PHD unit. But another coupling, independent Aegis Group unit Carat and Interpublic's Draft FCB Group, raises additional questions. Why isn't another Interpublic media shop such as Initiative, Universal McCann, Magna Global, or even Draft FCB's venerable FCB Media unit, on the team?



Executives familiar with the review say it is breaking new ground in terms of affiliations between media and brand agencies on Madison Avenue. "The idea is to build a dream team," says one knowlegable executive. "The alliances can come from anywhere, as long as they are best-in-class alliances."

If that's true, it raises questions why MediaVest and not Zenith was deemed best in class in Saatchi's pitch' and why Carat, not an Interpublic shop, is considered best of class in Draft FCB's effort.

The other two finalists left in the pitch include the Martin Agency, which has not aligned itself with a media shop, and Ogilvy & Mather, which has teamed up with sister WPP Group unit Mediaedge:cia.

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