GREY IMPORTS MEDIACOM BRAND TO U.S.: MOVE GIVES AGENCY GLOBAL REACH FOR INDEPENDENT MEDIA OPERATION

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Grey Advertising last week became one of the last agency giants to establish a branded U.S. media operation with the formation of MediaCom here.

Although MediaCom has been rolling out in markets around the world in the last 15 years, setting up a U.S. office finally gives Grey a global media operation. That allows it to better manage clients' budgets, take advantage of global media opportunities and more aggressively pursue media-only accounts, said MediaCom Worldwide Chairman Alec Gerster.

"You need worldwide scale to compete," he said.

In the U.S., MediaCom will employ 260 people and claims close to $2 billion in annual billings.

ONE OF THE LAST IN U.S.

Mr. Gerster said while Grey is following other agencies in branding its media operation in the U.S. -- others include Leo Burnett Co.'s Starcom and DDB Needham Worldwide's Optimum Media -- "it's not about catch-up, it's about what you're building worldwide. We're building on existing strength."

MediaCom Worldwide has offices in more than 80 countries and claims annual media billings approaching $8 billion.

The U.S. unit will be headed by Co-Managing Directors Jon Mandel, 46, and Dene Callas, 43. Mr. Mandel, who also will be chief negotiating officer, is well-known in the industry for his negotiation prowess; Ms. Callas, who becomes chief strategic officer, has extensive experience in media planning and client service; she was formerly senior VP-group media director. Both have been at Grey for more than 20 years.

"We've worked together in acquiring business, and running and servicing business," said Ms. Callas. "You can't plan in a vacuum or buy in a vacuum. It's important to meld strategy and buying, [and] both function in this partnership."

Mr. Mandel will be succeeded as Grey's director of national broadcast by Donna Speciale.

STRING OF WINS

Although MediaCom will handle all buying for U.S. clients, the media department of Grey, New York, will continue to handle media planning for full-service clients.

The formalization of the U.S. MediaCom unit follows a streak of media wins for Grey. In the past year, Grey has nabbed more than $400 million in media-only business from such marketers as Cendant, LVMH, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Reebok and the WB network.

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