The Invention Group was created to be the hub for the agency's creative thinking and execution across all communication platforms. And while the GroupM unit hasn't explicitly said it would offer the kind of creative services that traditional brand agencies such as WPP's JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R units provide, it has said that Invention would be responsible for the creation of "digital content, programming, sponsorship and planning."
The positioning is another step toward the integration of creative services into full-service media agencies, and other big name media shops are expected to announce similar initiatives in as soon as the next several weeks. Already, Publicis' Starcom MediaVest Group has formed Pixel, a dedicated creative services unit focusing on digital content, and Aegis Group has long provided creative services as part of its burgeoning Isobar digital advertising network.
But if there is media-focused agency that has come to symbolize the blurry world of creative media planning and execution it is M&B, the shop that spawned the communications planning revolution in the U.K., but which in recent years has been surpassed by the rapid growth of free-standing agencies like Naked, and the spawning of similar services units within the big agency holding companies.
Now M&B will be backed by the global resources, client base and manpower of a GroupM unit, and Mindshare and client Unilever will reap the unbridled creativity of bleeding edge thinkers.
While much of M&B's actual portfolio work is shrouded in mystique, it is known for re-imagining how consumers connect with brands through all communications platforms - not just traditional media - and how they can do it in an engaging, often entertaining and humorous way.
See for yourself. Take a gander at M&B's own "corporate" Web site. What you'll see on its home page is three cheesy porn-like neon type banners reading: "Hate Risk," "Love Risk," "Not Sure."
Click on "Hate Risk," and you land on a page showing a black-and-white image of a dripping faucet, replete with a sound effect sure to produce Chinese water torture results and force you to click through to the next banner, "Had Enough," which takes you back to the original three options. Click on the "Not Sure" banner, and all you see is loving video angles of M&B's "Best New Agency" award with options to "Choose Again" or "Get In Touch."
The whole point of the site's navigation is to force you through to the "Love Risk" page, which reveals M&B's true manifesto, which is, "The only way to succeed in a competitive world is to learn to love risk." This is followed by evocative risk-taking, creative copy and thank you to its risk-taking client roster, which includes Unilever, Cadbury and Barcardi, as well as regional U.K. brands.
When you finally click on the "Get In Touch" banner, you get treated to a Monty Python-esque video montage of Graham Bednash sitting at his desk, twiddling his thumbs, and looking quite bored and frustrated as he waits for his phone to ring.
Well, Bednash's phone has finally rung, and it was GroupM chief Irwin Gotlieb on the other end. And the result will be one of the most interesting marriages yet on Madison Avenue, as M&B energizes a $23 billion-plus media services organization.