Interpublic Dissolves Another Magna Brand, Renames Media Barter Unit 'Orion'

Interpublic's Mediabrands unit continues to whittle away at one of its brands: Magna. The Interpublic media management unit today announced that barter media division Magna Global trading has been renamed Orion Trading.

The move follows the dissolution of other elements of Magna over the past year. In September, Mediabrands officially shuttered its Magna Global Entertainment division, which was responsible for a number of TV shows for its clients.

That move followed a prior restructuring of Magna's core operations to focus exclusively on research and media marketplace intelligence. Previously, Magna had handled negotiations with media companies on behalf of Mediabrands' individual media services agencies, which regained those duties in the restructuring.

In a statement, Interpublic did not explain why it was abandoning the Magna name, but Brian McMahon, who founded Magna Global Trading in 1997 and remains CEO of Orion, said the new name "reflects our continuing response to our clients who are looking for a global barter solution. Our company is experiencing immense client demand and continued powerful growth as the advertising industry becomes more knowledgeable about our services and the impact we can have on an international level, especially in this challenging economy."



The name Orion, Interpublic said, is an allusion to the stellar constellation Orion, "which can be seen from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, rising in the East and setting in the West, making it a truly global constellation seen in all four compass points."

The last time an Interpublic unit used such a bearing point reference was when it folded True North Media into what are now elements of its other media brands.

Another logical reason for scrapping the Magna name: Having a barter media enterprise bear the same name as Magna's research and intelligence unit may have seemed at odds with some Interpublic insiders and clients.

Interpublic executives say the name change was made to fine-tune Magna's identity on its core research and market intelligence operations, and to establish a new, separate identity for the barter unit's fast-growing enterprise.

Interpublic announced that Orion has added five new offices across EMEA, APAC, North America and South America, making it the biggest and only truly global barter media organization among the major agency holding companies.

They also said Orion's growth is being fueled by general economic trends, which are forcing many marketers to look at alternative methods for funding their media programs. In barter media deals, advertisers trade some form of products or services in exchange for all or part of a media buy. The goods and services are generally liquidated in non-competing markets at a discount over their regular market value, providing cash to fund the purchase of media inventory that also is generally purchased at discounts.

The barter media industry historically has been dominated by big independent specialists such as Active International and Icon International, though some big media sales organizations, such as Turner Broadcasting have also operated their own divisions.

The practice has had a mixed reputation on Madison Avenue, partly because it is seen as trading in sullied goods, but also because there have been some notorious improprieties in the handling of barter deals.

"Moving from Magna to Orion was driven by its remarkable global expansion as well as a need to clarify misunderstanding in the network (and press) about the relationship between Magna forecasting and Magna trading," an Interpublic spokeswoman explained. "At its inception, Magna Global Trading was branded as a sister agency of Magna to show neutrality. Both organizations operated as fully independent agencies with distinct leadership and associates."

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