Is this the first case of fallout following the announcement of the planned Publicis-Bcom3 merger?
Maytag is a long-standing Starcom Media client -- to the tune $88 million in spending last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres CMR. But Optimedia in Mid America, a Publicis media unit in Chicago, handles the Whirlpool account, which spent $60 million last year, according to CMR.
Maytag and Whirlpool are archrivals in the kitchen and wash room -- both brands have several lines of directly competing products.
Maytag had not responded to a phone request for comment at press time.
Executives with knowledge of the review denied it had anything to do
Bcom3's Leo Burnett is Maytag's creative shop and Starcom handles the media buying business for the brand.
Initiative and Zenith Media
Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago, is the creative agency for Maytag's Hoover brand, while Initiative handles media buying. Maytag's Amana media and creative are handled by Interpublic's Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.
According to executives involved in the review, Initiative and Starcom's potential sibling, Zenith Media, owned by Publicis and Cordiant Communications Group, are in the running. Zenith apparently is not worried about a conflict with sibling shop Optimedia's Whirlpool business.
The acquisition of Bcom3 by Publicis is expected to be finalized in June. According to the Publicis Web site, 31% of Bcom3's outstanding shares and 45% of Publicis' shares have agreed to the merger, leaving almost 70% of Bcom3 shareholders left to still mull it over, and 55% of Publicis still to decide.
Even if and when the deal is done, Starcom executives do not expect a falling out with Maytag due to Whirlpool.