Universal McCann nets 20m BSkyB business

BSkyB has shocked the industry by handing its entire 20m media planning and buying account to Universal McCann.

It is the second big win for Universal this year. Two months ago, it picked up the 12m media planning and buying account for Esso from J Walter Thompson, after JWT’s main agency landed rival Shell’s creative business across Europe.

Speculation was rife when BSkyB called the pitch that it intended to move its business into Ogilvy & Mather’s media buying agency, The Network. The Network plans to merge with the media operation of WPP sister agency JWT.

There had been speculation that Zenith’s former chief executive Christine Walker would move to The Network’s Canary Wharf offices to run the combined UK media operation, taking Sky with her.

The move to Universal will be a blow to The Network managing director Mandy Pooler, who resigned the ITV’s 10m media planning and buying to pitch for BSkyB.

The Network and JWT made a joint proposal to the Central Office of Information’s media review two weeks ago, suggesting the merger was imminent.

Sky marketing director Jim Hytner comments: “We have been with Zenith for five healthy years and feel this is an appropriate time for a change.”

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