P&G hears final pitches in $1.2 bil TV review

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Procter & Gamble Co. will hear final presentations this week for the richest prize in the history of media--its $1.2 billion U.S. TV buying and planning account.

The review is expected to have industrywide ramifications, primarily because the giant marketer is trying to bring media planning and buying to a new level of sophistication for the U.S. market.

No media executives from the primary contenders--MacManus Group's TeleVest, New York (pitching with Wells BDDP); Leo Burnett USA, Chicago; Grey Advertising, New York; and Zenith Media, New York (with half-owner Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide)--would talk on the record. P&G also declined comment.

A decision is expected as early as next month.

A SEA CHANGE

One media executive involved explained why the P&G pitch represents a sea change: "Currently, most decisions on where to spend broadcast money are made using very old research and very old curves. They are highly subjective."

P&G has asked that its media planning and buying now be supported by more quantitative elements based on the actual habits of individual viewers. Up to now, most planning was based on dayparts and the average viewing habits of millions of people.

Nielsen Media Research is just beginning to release data on individual viewing habits to agencies.

"By using these new quantitative data, you potentially come up with a different lineup of TV shows than if you sit there with a brand manager who says, `I watch NBC on Thursday night and, damn it, that's going to be on my schedule,' " explained another agency buyer.

PLUGGING INTO 'OPTIMIZER'

The individual viewing data will be plugged into "optimizer" programs to find the best TV schedules to buy.

"You can go to an optimizer and find the best combination of spots to reach the greatest number of target viewers for the fewest ratings points, meaning the fewest dollars," said another media executive. "Then P&G, or any other advertiser, can reach the optimum goal--a lower advertising cost per sale."

Most observers said TeleVest is the favorite going into the review, because it does most of P&G's buying currently. The one major segment of national buying it doesn't handle--cable TV--has been handled by Wells. TeleVest has tried to fix that perceived weakness by hooking up with Wells for the pitch.

Burnett is considered the next strongest candidate. The shop is hungry, has devoted a lot of resources to the pitch and was picked by P&G earlier this year as print agency of record.

Grey, though it has a strong history of using optimizers in Europe, is the dark horse; Zenith, rebounding from its start-up problems, is now led by the well-respected Rich Hamilton, who came from longtime P&G shop D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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