Six holding companies -- Omnicom, Interpublic, Havas, Publicis, WPP and Aegis -- have been briefed about the search, though a decision isn't expected until year's end. WPP's MindShare handles much of Fox's account in the U.S. and Canada, particularly national cable, local TV and radio buying.
A representative for MindShare said, "Yes, we are going to defend" the account.
Allied, which handles Fox's newspaper buying, is not affected by the review.
Fox Filmed Entertainment is coming off a strong 2005 in which it was the second-highest-grossing studio, with $1.3 billion in domestic ticket sales. Its co-presidents of marketing, Pam Levine and Tony Sella, were recently named Ad Age's Entertainment Marketing MVPs for drawing massive crowds in a trying time for the film industry.
So far this year, the studio has had hits with "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "The Devil Wears Prada," "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "The Omen." Home-entertainment hits include DVD versions of "Walk the Line" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and compilations of popular TV series such as "The Simpsons" and "24."
Fox's film operations include several specialty divisions such as Fox Searchlight (home of the current hit "Little Miss Sunshine"), 20th Century Fox Animation and the newly launched Fox Atomic, which will produce and market movies targeted at young adults and teens.
Unusual consultant choice
Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., will handle the review, and Fox's decision to go with that firm is noteworthy -- Hollywood studios rarely turn to outside consultants for help in locating a media agency.
Catherine Bension, Select Resources' CEO, said Fox executives decided to re-assess their media business. More than two-thirds of the company's media spending is in the U.S., with the remainder spent globally and divided among a number of agencies. Some of those deals will continue via alliances with other studios and companies, she said.
Abbey Klaassen in New York contributed to this report.