P&G plans to review TV buying

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Procter & Gamble Co. is planning to review its $1 billion national TV buying account, now split between TeleVest, a unit of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, and Wells Rich Greene BDDP, both New York.

The review would follow this past winter's $250 million print buying review, which ended with Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, taking over all print buying responsibilities from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York. Media planning was consolidated at Burnett from all nine roster agencies.


At that time, P&G and agency executives said they expected P&G to next turn its attention to TV.

"Presently, we have no plans [for a TV review], and we can't speculate on future plans," a P&G spokeswoman said.

Agency executives said they have not received official notice from P&G of a TV review. But they said signs from P&G point to a buying review starting by the yearend and possibly in the next few months.

Several executives said they expect P&G to explore a planning consolidation, as well. Currently, roster agencies handle most planning duties for their respective brands.


One executive said P&G will invite all roster agencies to pitch for TV, as it did for print. Another said he expects only P&G's four global agencies--Burnett, DMB&B/TeleVest, Grey Advertising and Saatchi--to be invited.

A review would create a giant opportunity for Saatchi and Burnett. Each is among the nation's top five TV buyers without much TV business from P&G. With another $1 billion in billings, either would instantly become the industry giant.

P&G's practice in the past, however, has been to spread responsibilities and the accompanying revenue among its agencies, which would make Burnett a surprising choice.

Burnett's media department has been on a roll, winning about $500 million in new buying assignments from Miller Brewing Co. and P&G this year. TeleVest, the nation's largest TV buyer by virtue of its P&G account, would stand to possibly lose more than $800 million in network and syndicated buying.

WRG buys P&G's cable and sports time, worth more than $200 million.

Spot TV probably won't be included in a review, executives said. Burnett, TeleVest and Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago, currently split spot buying chores.

P&G has been aggressively trying to enhance efficiencies in media buying for several years. It began testing consolidated print planning in 1995. That test gave Saatchi authority to overrule a brand's magazine selections in the women's service category if it saw a chance to save money with a similar selection.

Pleased with the results of the test, P&G decided to expand the practice into other magazine categories last fall. That decision led to the consolidation at Burnett.


Now P&G wants to see if it can do the same thing with TV planning. Executives in the company's media department are thinking about ways to test or simply implement a TV planning consolidation.

Those executives apparently see an opportunity to review buying practices at the same time.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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