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McCann CEO slams ‘shoddy’ media agencies, as agency ramps up media buying offering

Lilley says McCann's media growth not deliberate

Lilley: McCann’s media growth “simply answering the needs of the market”

Creative agency McCann has continued its push to become a major media buying force with the recruitment of a head of media and confirmation it is working with media agencies outside the UM network for the first time.

The agency also added the $5m Australian Unity business, bringing its total media billings to almost $100 million.

McCann Worldgroup chairman and CEO Ben Lilley told Mumbrella that while the agency continued to work with UM, it was also doing media buying for some of its clients through rivals such as Havas Media.

Lilley also fired a shot at “shoddy” media agencies that he claims are dragging their creative partners down.

When asked about McCann’s relationship with Havas Media, he said: “It varies, to be honest. We treat buying the way that we do all other facets of our production capacities.

“There are a number of agencies that we have been buying through and it really depends on a client-by-client basis what the particular requirements are for each client and how we can best meet those,” Lilley said.

“We are not wedded to any one in any particular network; it’s all about just putting together the best integrated package for each client.”

Lilley said that “probably the majority of our buying” continues to be handled through the sister agency UM.

“We have a panel or cross-section of ‘best in breed’ partners – and that goes for everything from digital production through to TV production through to media buying.

“As McCann continues to grow its media capabilities and integrated offering in response to client demand, expanding our team and bringing in the right skills becomes increasingly important,” Lilley said.

“It’s not an offering that we’re pushing, per se, on existing clients or even new clients, it’s more an offering that we know best serves the need of most most marketers who are receptive to it; so when we can take an integrated, strategic, and creative, and media, and digital, and social – and everything else – response to our clients, we do.”

Sawyer joins McCann from Paykel

New head of media: Sawyer Joins McCann from Paykel

To support the growing media business McCann has recruited Lyndell Sawyer from independent media agency, Paykel, to take on the role of head of media.

Sawyer will lead a team that also sees the addition of former Maxus employee, Jane Walshe, in Melbourne as media director, Rachel Teh, ex-Mediacom, as senior channel planner and Emma Black, also from Maxus, as senior media account manager.

Further new media hires include Callum Clarke, another Maxus veteran, as media account manager, and Alana Adair as a media account executive.

Lilley said the rapid growth of McCann’s media business was not part of a deliberate strategy but was simply answering the needs of the market.

“The truth is our media offering is only there because, in the first instance we had a number of clients who started talking to us about wanting to better integrate their strategic and creative work we were doing with their media and channel planning needs.

“They weren’t satisfied with what they were getting with their existing media partners and they wanted to se whether we could improve on that.”

He said the agency started working on a more integrated media model 18 months ago and the project grew rapidly from there.

Lilley fired a shot across the bows of traditional media agencies, questioning the viability of their business models.

“We are not the only creative agency that is trying to better integrate our strategic and creative offering with a media offering and I think there is a number of agencies that are having some pretty good success with that now,” he said.

“What I hope that it means is it’s going to improve the offering across the industry as far as waking up a few media agencies, in particular, as to how they can better step up or improve or evolve their own agency’s models because there is nothing harder for us, or other creative agencies, than working with shoddy media partners.

“There are some great media agencies out there, but there are some that are really struggling.”

Simon Canning

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