The win is doubly sweet for Starcom since it follows a shoot-out with a leading rival, DDB Needham Worldwide's Optimum Media, New York. Starcom was on the losing end of a similar shoot-out in 1997 when McDonald's Corp. awarded the DDB Needham unit most of its national media buying business.
REVIEW NOT REVEALED
While Morgan Stanley's Discover Card unit has been openly conducting a creative review, the media consolidation review hadn't been publicly revealed, even though it was set in motion first. Optimum had bought media for Discover Card, for which DDB Needham's Chicago office currently handles creative. Starcom was the incumbent on the Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter accounts.
Executives at both Starcom and Optimum were traveling at press time, and did not return phone calls. A Discover spokeswoman said there has been no decision yet on a media consolidation.
The $1 billion-plus Starcom has picked up more than $500 million in new media accounts in recent months, gaining agency of record status for Budget Rent-A-Car, Sara Lee Corp., Ralston Purina Co. and United Distillers.
DDB Needham has been Discover's creative and media agency since 1987, and has seen the account almost double in size to about $80 million. Dean Witter has been a Burnett client since 1988, when spending was at about $20 million.
Since the merger with Morgan Stanley, the account has jumped to about $50 million.
Overall media spending for the company is expected to climb to about $200 million in the next year, the Morgan Stanley insider said.
Marketer consolidation in numerous business sectors-including financial services-is rapidly leading to consolidation of media buying accounts to gain clout.
The combined BankAmerica and NationsBank, which merged last year, is also in the midst of a media consolidation review.
CREATIVE DECISION SOON?
The Discover creative review is expected to be decided by March.