Havas' MPG, WPP's Group M Chase Peugeot Citroen Account in Europe

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- In a surprising move, media agencies owned by rival agency holding companies WPP Group and Havas today announced a joint venture, 2MV.

Peugeot's media account is in review across eight European markets.
The purpose, according to executives familiar with the situation, is to pitch the PSA Peugeot Citroen account, now in review across eight European markets, as well as another European-based account.

Havas and WPP
The media agencies involved are MPG, the Havas-owned media-buying and-planning company, and Group M, a division of WPP that oversees the holding company's multiple media agencies. MPG owns 51% of 2MV, Group M the remaining 49%.

Heading up 2MV as CEO is MPG's Yves Del Frate. Mr. Del Frate's most recent assignment for MPG was as global account director on the PSA Peugeot Citroen account. Earlier, he was CEO of two creative agencies in Paris owned by MPG sibling Euro RSCG Worldwide.

Long-standing media partnerships
While the cooperation between MPG and Group M is shocking to many because of the open hostilities exchanged in recent months between Havas CEO Alain de Pouzilhac and WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell, the media agencies have had a long-standing history of partnership on an operational level. Years ago, Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide partnered with WPP's MindShare on a media alliance called Motivator (MindShare still serves MPG's clients in Asia, where MPG has no presence). WPP's Mediaedge:cia, when it was known as MediaEdge as part of Y&R Advertising, worked with Havas on a joint media-buying venture called Mediaopolis, and CIA, prior to its acquisition by WPP, also worked with MPG.

"This has come together quickly and easily," said Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of Group M. "It's an opportunity where two parties can help each other. There have always been cordial relations between WPP and Havas on the media side."

A friendlier rivalry
Mainardo de Nardis, CEO worldwide of Mediaedge:cia, and MPG's managing director, Fernando Rodes Vila, have known each other for many years, and Mr. de Nardis introduced Mr. Rodes to Mr. Gotlieb, according to executives familiar with the situation. Messrs. de Pouzilhac and Sorrell approved the joint venture, but specifics were hammered out at the media agency level, according to executives.

MPG handles PSA Peugeot Citroen's media in France and Spain. The joint venture, to operate in France, German, Italy, Spain and the U.K., gives MPG additional resources -- such as tools, research and in some markets, buying -- in the hope of winning the other markets involved in the automaker's review, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and the U.K.

Others pitching Peugeot
Other agencies believed to be vying for the business include Omnicom's OMD, the incumbent in the U.K.; Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative; and Aegis Group's Vizeum.

Media spending on the accounts is not known.

Calls to the various agencies were not returned at press time. PSA Peugeot Citroen could not be reached at press time.

Second review
Details of the other account in review could not be determined, but executives said the marketer is based in Europe.

Mr. Gotlieb refused to comment on whether the venture has a future beyond these two pitches. "You can't say anything is impossible. If you'd told me five years ago that MediaEdge and MediaCom would have been part of WPP I'd have said you were nuts."