Cross-media deals: OMD in $2B Disney, Viacom talks

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Omnicom Group's OMD USA is negotiating multiplatform ad deals with Walt Disney Co. and Viacom that are worth more than $1 billion each, Ad Age sibling Electronic Media reports.

The billion-dollar deals would include just about all the upfront, scatter and spot dollars the media powerhouse's clients plan to spend on Viacom and Disney media properties over the next year, according to network TV executives familiar with the discussions.

If completed, they would blow away the scope of previous pacts and would also mark a milestone since they are being done by a media agency using the combined clout of its clients rather than by individual marketers.

OMD's client roster includes such blue-chip marketers as McDonald's, Visa International, PepsiCo and Hershey Chocolate USA.

Although there are separate negotiations, OMD would like to close both single-year deals, executives said.


The Viacom deal would include CBS; UPN; the MTV Networks; BET; CBS and UPN TV stations; syndicator CBS Enterprises; Infinity radio stations; Viacom Outdoor; and the company's Internet properties.

The Disney pact would include ABC and its cable properties such as ESPN, A&E Networks and Lifetime Television; ABC-TV stations; syndicator Buena Vista Television; ABC Radio; and Disney's print publications and Internet properties.

Earlier reported deals between media companies such as Viacom and marketers including Procter & Gamble Co. and Tricon Global Restaurants have been multiyear contracts worth several hundred million dollars.

The OMD deal would be for a much larger price, although it is unclear how much incremental revenue the deals would add to the media sellers' coffers.

"Everyone talks about size and the leverage that brings," said one of the network executives familiar with the discussions. "But no one has brought something of this gargantuan size to the table before. This is a game changer."

From the Viacom and Disney sides, those executives need to be convinced they are "getting something worth closing the deal," said the executive. "They need to look beyond the billion-dollar-plus number of these deals and say, `OK, but am I really getting a bigger share of budget?' On the OMD side, they need it to make sense both price-wise and property-wise for their clients."

big player

OMD, which combines the media operations of BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide and TBWA Worldwide, had $7.6 billion in capitalized media billings last year, according to Ad Age figures.

OMD was the largest media agency buyer of network TV last year in the U.S., spending $2.8 billion. OMD was the No. 3 spender in cable TV, the No. 3 spender in syndicated TV, the No. 6 spender in spot TV, and the No. 3 spender in spot and network radio.

Even if it completes the deals, OMD still plans to make buys on NBC, Fox and other broadcast and cable TV networks during the upfront. OMD CEO Joe Uva and Managing Director Dan Rank are leading the negotiations for the media agency.

Neither could be reached for comment. ABC declined to comment and referred calls to OMD.

Chuck Ross is the editor of Advertising Age sibling Electronic Media.

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