21st Century Fox Finishes Bulk of Media Agency Review After a Year

Entertainment Giant Spent $768 Million on U.S. Measured Media in 2015

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Entertainment titan 21st Century Fox has selected a handful of media agencies to support its business in the U.S. and Canada after starting a global review a year ago, according to people familiar with the matter. The global part of the review is ongoing.

21st Century Fox
21st Century Fox

The company, which reviewed worldwide media buying and planning across its massive film, TV and home entertainment groups for the first time in 10 years, has retained incumbent Zenith to handle buying for its 20th Century Fox film and home entertainment divisions in the U.S. and Canada. The shop will handle both planning and buying for parts of the film business in Canada. Zenith also has retained buying for FX.

Dentsu Aegis' Vizeum has won the bulk of buying and planning for Fox Broadcast and Fox Sports, as well as National Georgraphic. MDC's Assembly is also on the roster. The mid-sized shop will handle planning for 20th Century film and home entertainment, as well as planning for FX.

National Geographic buying was previously at Mullen, Fox Broadcast was at Media Storm and Fox Sports was at Assembly. Much of the planning across divisions had been handled in-house.

"We are getting great service from all of our current agency partners so this review is not about performance or cost," said a spokeswoman last May, when the company began the review. "The rules of consumer engagement in our business are shifting quickly and dramatically. After more than 10 years since our last company-wide global review, we are going through this process to ensure we have the right agency partners who are best equipped to work with us to reimagine the future of marketing for 21st Century Fox's leading brands."

MediaLink was the consultant on the pitch. 21st Century Fox is one of the last corporate giants to conclude its media agency review following what much of the industry referred to last year as Reviewmageddon.

21st Century Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Agencies mentioned either declined to comment or couldn't be reached.

The media giant's film division awarded its North American media-buying and -planning account to Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media in 2007. Fox consolidated its FX account with the shop in 2014. Vizeum has also supported the company's film division in international markets.

21st Century Fox spent a total of $768 million on domestic measured media in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter and Kantar Media. The 20th Century Fox film division, which accounted for the bulk of that media budget in the U.S., spent $424 million in domestic measured media in 2015, followed by Fox Broadcast Network ($120.4 million), DVDs and Video ($52.3 million), Fox Searchlight Pictures ($48.7 million), FX ($48.3 million) and National Georgraphic Channel ($15.1 million).

Retaining most of the film assignment was an accomplishment for Publicis Groupe, the agency holding company which recently overhauled and consolidated its previously disparate media agency operations under former ZenithOptimedia CEO Steve King. Mr. King now oversees all Publicis Media operations, including ZenithOptimedia and the agencies that lived within the Starcom Mediavest Group network, among others. The retention follows a rough year for SMG, which lost its massive P&G, Walmart and Coca-Cola accounts.

The planning assignment is one of the highest-profile wins for MDC media agency Assembly, which was likely the smallest contender. MDC, a mid-sized agency holding company, several years ago merged and rebranded its various media agency resources, creating a larger shop in the U.S. under CEO Martin Cass.

It's also a win for Vizeum, which is primarily known as Carat's conflict shop and has been quiet over the past few years. Less than two years ago, Steven Feuling moved over from Carat to run the global agency in the U.S.

The decision comes days after the Fox TV network brand held its annual upfront event, where it previewed its lineup and new programming for advertisers and media buyers.

UPDATE: Following publication, 21st Century Fox executives commented on the changes.

Julie Rieger, exec VP-media and marketing planning for 20th Century Fox Film, said in a statement: "It was time for the film group to take the old way, the old processes, the old rules of media and toss them out the window. We needed to start with a clean sheet of paper. So we chose a strategic and planning partner, Assembly, that built their company on that very premise. We wanted the thinkers, the scientists, the technologists and psychologists to help us revolutionize our media and marketing."

"While we are redefining our strategic future, it's crucial to have a best in class buying agency that we trust implicitly," added Stephanie Gibbons, FX's president of marketing and digital media, and Ms. Reiger, in a joint statement. "And we all know, a plan is only as good as its execution. We are thrilled to keep Zenith a part of the Fox family after all these years and after all their brilliant and tireless work."

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