WPP opens first MindShare unit

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HONG KONG -- WPP Group plc's merged J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather media operation, MindShare, announced last month, is to make its worldwide debut in the Asia Pacific region.

MindShare Asia Pacific will launch November 1, ahead of its introduction to the U.K. and other European countries, scheduled for the first quarter of 1998. The new structure is then expected to roll out gradually on a market-by-market basis, eventually encompassing the whole of Europe and South Africa, Latin America and Asia. The combined operation will then be the biggest media buying operation in the world.

In Asia Pacific, MindShare will immediately be the largest media operation across the five markets of Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand, with claimed billings of more than $1bn. The venture will be seeking new media-only clients, as well as taking on the media business currently with JWT and O&M. The benefits of extending MindShare to other Asia Pacific markets is under consideration.

Dominic Proctor, formerly chief executive of JWT U.K. and now chief operating officer of MindShare, said from Hong Kong that it was "particularly stimulating" to kick off the new business in Asia Pacific. "The strong regional growth, the lack of competition, the skill and reputation of the two agencies and the entrepreneurial spirit of the region makes this a perfect place to start," he said.

John Steedman, JWT media director, Asia Pacific, said that cross-border media and the "relentless rise" of interactive media in Asia Pacific made MindShare's creation "even more logical" in the region.

The move to combine the two media networks in one will bring greater buying muscle and give WPP more power in a sector witnessing rapid consolidation into fewer hands. It also meets market demand for more specialist media services.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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