UNBUNDLING MEDIA UNIT TO COMPETE WITH INDIES BOZELL MIKE DREXLER

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Mike Drexler isn't necessarily one of the most popular media executives in the ad agency media world, but few would argue his impact.

A notorious self-promoter and head of Bozell's media operations, Mr. Drexler has made his mark on the way agencies manage their media departments and in the way they service their clients.

About two years ago, Mr. Drexler convinced Bozell's management to spin off the agency's media department into a separate company, BJK&E Media Group, which Mr. Drexler oversees as president.

Other big shops had been moving in that direction, setting up new-business units within their departments and pitching media-only accounts. But Bozell became the first to set off its media department as a separate subsidiary, free to move out and compete with rising independent media buying services.

The move has had a significant impact on other agencies, providing precedent and credibility for the unbundled approach to media service.

Other major agencies, including D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and N W Ayer, have since followed suit, and virtually every one has been forced to reconsider its media department structure even if it hasn't formally unbundled.

Mr. Drexler isn't singlehandedly responsible for the movement. It's predicated on more than 25 years of emerging independent companies pitching and poaching full-service agency media accounts.

He's considered the first to acknowledge their impact, noting it was the inroads being made by independents that convinced him to make the move at Bozell to compete more effectively with indies and other full-service agencies.

To date, Bozell has had modest success winning business as a result of the new unit, picking up media-only accounts from Pfizer, Dial Corp., ESPN, Ace Hardware and Ross Perot's presidential bid.

But just as significant as the business Bozell won, was the business Mr. Drexler said the structure helped "protect."

He estimates that of BJK&E Media's $970 million in annual billings, about $100 million comes from either new business or business the new unit successfully defended from pitches from outside independents and other agencies.

As a result, BJK&E Media has had the financial resources to expand its media-services portfolio to include new services. Among them: co-op, Yellow Pages, infomercial marketing and interactive media services.

It also has expanded internationally through a strategic alliance with Chris Ingram Associates in the U.K. that has enabled it to set up affiliations with agencies and buying services in virtually every major market in Western Europe.

"Clients today want customization," Mr. Drexler says.

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