Procter & Gamble is consolidating most of its media business in China with Starcom, awarding the Publicis Groupe -owned media agency its non-TV agency-of -record assignment, a person close to P&G said.
The assignment is a return to P&G's media arrangement before 2009, when WPP's MediaCom won the non-TV portion of the account from Starcom, which continued to handle P&G's estimated $500 million TV business in China.
TV takes the biggest share of most major advertisers' ad budgets, and P&G is China's largest advertiser, spending more than $1 billion a year in China, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.
P&G issued a briefto Starcom and MediaCom in February, requesting that the two media agencies present ideas beyond their existing scope of work. P&G denied at the time that it was conducting a media review, saying instead that it was looking for "opportunities for efficiencies."
Media executives speculated that MediaCom had an advantage after winning P&G's planning business in Japan last year, as well as assignments in a number of Southeast Asian markets. But its accomplishments elsewhere in the region didn't help MediaCom keep P&G's non-TV account in China.
"P&G went with the more comfortable solution -- they didn't want to rock the boat," the person familiar with the matter told Ad Age , noting that Starcom is built around tactical planning and already has an extensive team in place to handle P&G work.
Bertilla Teo, Starcom's CEO Greater China, declined to comment and referred questions to the client. A P&G spokesman in China did not return messages seeking comment.
MediaCom picked up several smaller planning assignments in the media shuffle. P&G will move strategic communications planning of two hair-care brands, Rejoice and Head & Shoulders, to MediaCom, the person said.