Diageo dumps Ikon as strategy moves to Leo Burnett, with buying overseen by Mediavest

diageoAlcoholic beverages company Diageo has dumped its media agency Ikon Communications and appointed creative agency Leo Burnett to handle its media account.

The company confirmed the move this afternoon, with the deal seeing  the Mediavest arm of Starcom Mediavest overseeing the buying part within fellow Publicis agency Leo Burnett.

The loss of the account is another blow to Ikon which in the last year has lost a number of major accounts including Vodafone, Coca-Cola, and RACV WA.

Speaking to Mumbrella in Cannes, chairman of Starcom Mediavest John Sintras flagged that the company was looking to differentiate its Mediavest arm, after rumours emerged it might be rolled into a full-service offering with a sister agency.

“It’s fair to say were looking for opportunities to better collaborate with our creative brethren in a way which makes sense for clients. With Mediavest in Australia there’s an opportunity to do that to try and differentiate it from Starcom a bit,” said Sintras. 

“Hopefully very soon there will be an example of that in practice, something more meaningful. It’s wherever it makes sense for us in our group. You’ve got to try different things and that’s innovation too.”

Nielsen reports Diageo spent more than $17m on advertising in the year to June 2014.

A Diageo spokesperson said in a statement this afternoon:

I can confirm that after a three year partnership with Ikon as our media buying agency we have decided it’s time for a different approach and will not be renewing our contract with Ikon.

As the media landscape evolves to encompass owned, earned and bought media, it makes sense for us to bring these three areas under one umbrella agency.

As a result, we will be extending our partnership with Leo Burnett to include media strategy and planning. Leo’s will also oversee a buying team at sister agency Mediavest.

The transition from Ikon to Leo Burnett is expected to be finalised in the coming weeks.

Leo Burnett is not believed to handle media duties for any of its other clients, which include McDonald’s, Samsung and WWF.

A spokeswoman for Leo Burnett declined to comment. Ikon had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Nic Christensen and Alex Hayes


  1. .0000000049% Minority Shareholder
    21 Jul 14
    3:45 pm

  2. Surely a price sensitive announcement for STW?

  3. Sam Field
    21 Jul 14
    3:53 pm

  4. How many times has Mr Greet lost the Diageo account? Didn’t he say bye to it at Mindshare as well?

  5. Another Agency
    21 Jul 14
    4:22 pm

  6. Cue CBA to move and that’s about it, right?

  7. Bob Turner
    21 Jul 14
    4:47 pm

  8. This is a really sad day. Like Campaign Palace, Ikon is a once brilliant agency that feels doomed. I hope they retain CBA and rebound quickly…

  9. A harsh trifle....
    21 Jul 14
    4:57 pm

  10. Sadly Bob Turner has a point. It wasn’t just the management team departures (Dan Johns et al) that has sowed the seed of Ikon’s demise. The departures since of long-standing Ikonoclasts, Brett Dawson (to launch Bohemia), Nicole Turley, Pat Crowley, and now Dave Scott will have left gaping holes that don’t appear from the outside-in to have been filled adequately yet………
    I hope sincerely that James Greet and his recruits can turn it around before too much longer.

  11. The Clock
    21 Jul 14
    4:58 pm

  12. It’s been a year since a raft of high profile / senior exits. Greets appointment called out his turnaround abilities, instead there’s been a succession of losses and now to the most uncommon type of competitor.

    When’s the turnaround coming?

    That aside, Burnett’s should be credited for pulling off an outstanding coup for itself and the wider Publicis Group. Ironically it was Ikons owner STW, which pioneered a village model to service all a clients needs. Burnett’s took it to the next level.

    Well played.

  13. Merger...
    21 Jul 14
    5:08 pm

  14. Surely there will be more people talking mergers now?

  15. alex
    21 Jul 14
    5:58 pm

  16. This is a really smart way to launch the mediavest brand in the market, not just use it as conflict brand.

  17. WTF
    22 Jul 14
    6:53 am

  18. The previous management was ousted because STW honchos wanted to change the agency. Congratulations Mike, Chris, job well done.

  19. Harry Balzac
    22 Jul 14
    8:33 am

  20. Surely the story here is that Leo’s are handling the media.

  21. Fabian N
    22 Jul 14
    8:38 am

  22. Yes Ikon was once a really good agency. Sad to see what it has become. These things tend to go in cycles so perhaps it will bounce back.

  23. drinkslover
    22 Jul 14
    8:55 am

  24. I think Diageo should also be high fived here. Congrats Adam Ballesty and team. A brave jump into a brave new (very old) world. Its clear that Leo Burnett Sydney has been an outstanding, award winning partner for a long time. However to be the first to take this jump is just another exmaple of the way you go about your business….. I tip my hat to you. Good luck and may many wish they had the balls you clearly do.

  25. fraser
    22 Jul 14
    9:32 am

  26. Momentum is an unstoppable beast ( ask Droga5), when the doors blow open its hard to keep your clients. I hope Ikon have CBA on a long and water tight contract as the role M&C are on its highly likely there have been talks in Maquarie St about getting the CBA media.

  27. Just saying...
    22 Jul 14
    10:07 am

  28. The writing was on the wall once Simon and Gary left Ikon. The place was never the same after STW took full control. Bit of a shame really. The same thing is happening with Moon too.

  29. Too soon
    22 Jul 14
    10:54 am

  30. Ikon won Diageo when Gary and Simon were pretty much out.

    Seems more about the client than the agency. Significant shift from Diageo – a company that just 2 years ago seemingly had more agencies on retainer than actual marketing staff … now it’s streamlined to just 1.

  31. Meh
    22 Jul 14
    9:19 pm

  32. Media agencies are pretty much useless anyway, except for buying.

    Look at the recent Rouse Hill debacle. Who was in charge of where, when and how those ads ran?

  33. Matt
    23 Jul 14
    1:19 pm

  34. @ Meh – If that’s the attitude, “useless except for buying”, what would you expect? The person in charge is always the client if I recall, seeing they sign off the dollars. You sound a bit like one of those clients that blames everyone else rather than take ownership of your own marketing decisions. Either that or you just have no idea where these responsibilities should lie

  35. Jason
    30 Jul 14
    12:19 pm

  36. The Australian (and especially Sydney) media landscape is so ridiculously bloated more moves like this are inevitable. The days of ‘media’ and ‘creative’ agencies are numbered, and within 5 years we will be down to less than 10 full service ‘advertising agencies’ accounting for 90% off all media billings. There will always be the smaller boutique players (taking up the remaining 10%), but if a country the size of Australia can’t even support more than 4 major banks or 2 major supermarket chains, I don’t see how 20+ dedicated media agencies can go on, often with planning and buying further fragmented.