MPG Passes Screen Test, Lands Starring Role With CBS Films

In its biggest win since landing the $700 million-plus Sears Holding Corp. account more than a year ago, Havas' MPG unit has picked up CBS Films, the new Hollywood movie studio being launched by CBS Corp. MPG will handle all media planning and buying for the account, which will roll out a half dozen mid-budget feature films next year, and will bill an estimated $100 million in media buys.

The assignment may be a bit of a surprise for some observers, because it comes two months after CBS Corp. consolidated the media services account for its flagship television units, including the CBS Television Network and Showtime, at Omnicom's OMD unit, splitting with long-time media shop Carat. That move seemed a fait accompli to some observers, after Alan Cohen jumped to run OMD's U.S. operations from Interpublic's Initiative unit, because Cohen has a close relationship with CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer.

It wasn't entirely clear at presstime why CBS Films didn't follow the path to OMD, but it may have to do with the fact that OMD also handles Universal's theatrical film account, which might have been seen as a conflict with CBS Films, or would at the very least have overshadowed the new studio.



"I think they were impressed by our studio knowledge, but they also saw that we were a well coordinated team," says MPG COO Steve Lanzano, adding that MPG assembled an account group steeped in studio experience, and created proprietary tools and media planning models to win the account.

This win caps off a recent roll for MPG that includes media services accounts for Virgin Mobile, Carnival Cruise Lines, Jones Apparel Group, and Swarovski, and gives it a so-called "showcase" account. Entertainment accounts are coveted by agencies, because they are seen as assignments that have a lot of visibility and enable agencies to demonstrate creativity and breakthrough ideas that will help them win business in other categories.

CBS Films plans to produce four to six films per year, and is currently in pre-production on "The Untitled Crowley Project," a drama starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, and romantic comedy "Plan B," starring Jennifer Lopez. "Plan B" will be its first release, and is scheduled to hit theaters in January 2010.

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