Western International Media has been rocked by Vauxhall’s dec ision to review its entire 86m UK business.
The move will determine the future of parent company InterPublic Group’s UK media operation.
InterPublic has already revealed plans to merge its two international media brands, Western and Initiative Media, into a new company called Western Initiative Media.
In the UK, conflict between Western client Vauxhall and Initiative’s Peugeot-CitroÃ« business would appear to stand in the way of a merger, but if the Vauxhall account moves out of Western, the way would be clear to align the two brands.
Industry sources say IPG is trying to manoeuvre the Vauxhall business into Universal McCann, IPG’s third media brand. Universal McCann already handles General Motors’ media business in Continental Europe.
Phil Geier, IPG’s New York-based worldwide chairman, is reported to have visited Vauxhall’s Luton headquarters last week.
Andrew Jones, marketing operations director for Vauxhall, says: “We have looked at our media buying arrangements. One of the ideas is to rationalise our media buying. There is a possibility of centralising the European media buying.”
But he adds: “It’s a routine review. On average, we’ll go through a formal review every three years. Vauxhall UK has had absolutely no contact with Universal.”
Chris Shaw, joint managing director at Universal McCann, and Mike Tunnicliffe, managing director at Western, both refused to comment.