KFC marketer stands by embattled Mediacom as audit continues into TV ratings irregularities

Yum!_Brands_Logo.svgYum! Brands chief marketing officer Nikki Lawson has said she will stick by embattled media agency Mediacom while a full investigation into the misreporting of TV audience figures is carried out.

Lawson described Mediacom as a “good partner” which has worked with Yum for four years, and insisted she is not about to follow the lead of Foxtel and move the account to another agency.

“Mediacom is a partner of ours and we still very much see them as that,” she told Mumbrella.

Auditor Ernst and Young is conducting an independent review into procedures at Mediacom as the firm looks to identify how and why figures for three clients – Yum, IAG and Foxtel – ended up being inaccurate in post-campaign reports.

Last week Foxtel moved its $50m media buying from Mediacom to sister GroupM agency Mindshare, but Lawson said Yum, which owns the KFC and Pizza Hut brands, would continue to work with the agency while the reasons behind the misreporting are explored.

She said she believes the inaccurate reporting was isolated and limited “to a couple of individuals”.

mediacom“I am talking without having a debrief of the full situation but that is my feeling and that is the stance we are taking in the interim,” Lawson told Mumbrella. “We have an understanding of the situation but are not jumping to any conclusions until we have sat down and gone through the detail.

“If it comes out that the whole organisation knew about something and it’s one almightly scandal then that’s a problem for us and our reaction will be different. But if it turns out it was isolated to a couple of individuals and they were doing it on their terms, that does unfortunately sometimes happens in organisations.

“Mediacom have been a good partner to us and you can’t control what every single person does in the organisation so we are going to give them space to investigate that.

“In the short term they have brought in additional resources to make sure our account runs correctly while they do the investigation. As long as they don’t drop the ball and everything is taken through its paces we’ll work with them. They are a partner of ours and we still very much see them as that.”

Lawson said she did not believe there was a large value attached to the misreporting, suggesting there was under as well as the over reporting of figures.

Asked if management must ultimately be held to account, Lawson said that should only be a consideration if internal systems are found to have been sub standard and far removed from practices adopted by the rest of the industry.

She said Yum was expecting an update from Mediacom before Christmas ahead of the EY report in January.

“They are absolutely keeping us in the loop, almost daily, and my understanding is that they are checking every single spot three different ways – that’s a fair amount of inventory,” she said.

IAG head of marketing Jane Merrick said the company was in “on-going discussions” with Mediacom and would remain with the agency while it awaits the outcome of the report. She declined to comment further.

Steve Jones


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