The Volkswagen Group (VW) has moved its £60m UK media buying and planning account out of BBJ Media Services and into Mediacom TMB, wiping out nearly a third of BBJ’s billings.
Mediacom’s victory, predicted in Marketing Week (MW June 3), puts into doubt the future of BBJ’s TV buying operation, which some observers believe may be amalgamated with that of parent company Carat. It has also reignited speculation that the agency as a whole will not be able to remain independent of Carat.
BBJ managing director Jerry Buhlmann denies both rumours. And he says there will no redundancies.
Nigel Morris, BBJ’s marketing director, says: “This [merging the TV buying operation] is not under consideration at the moment. If in the future this [the current set-up] does not work, we’ll consider anything that will benefit our clients.
“We have been aware of this issue for more than a year. There are no plans to change the current set-up.”
The UK review was first revealed in Marketing Week in November – despite repeated denials by BBJ – after Carat’s German operation was ditched by VW in favour of Media-com. This key split in the manufacturer’s home market precipitated a series of media reviews across Europe.
Bulhmann says the pitch for the UK account, which also involved New PHD, was “completely led” by Germany.
But Stephen Allan, joint managing director of Mediacom TMB, comments: “It was a very tough pitch process, which lasted a long time and was run by the UK marketing team.”