Media Agency of the Year 2009

Media Agency of the Year Honorable Mention: MediaVest

Innovative Dealmaking and New Business From the Likes of Schering-Plough Made 2008 a Standout Year for the Publicis Shop

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In 2008 MediaVest not only stood out among its Publicis Groupe siblings, Starcom, Zenith and Optimedia, but also distinguished itself from many of its non-sibling agency competitors by executing and leading major campaigns for clients such as Walmart and Starbucks, and masterminding some groundbreaking upfront deals.

Thought leadership: Bill Tucker, CEO of MediaVest USA
Thought leadership: Bill Tucker, CEO of MediaVest USA
That's because for MediaVest USA CEO Bill Tucker, 2008 was more about exhibiting thought leadership for the industry and proving media agencies were worthy of a larger role within the marketing mix than it was about big new-business wins.

However, MediaVest pulled off an impressive, albeit relatively quiet, year in new-business wins, with more than $260 million in new billings. The agency managed to snag agency of record and strategic buying and planning duties for both Schering-Plough ($220 million) and TD Ameritrade ($30 million) in May, helping drive revenue growth up 12% and parking the total for overall revenue in the neighborhood of $320 million to $325 million for 2008.

MediaVest got the year underway by conducting what it called a "landmark cinema upfront deal," investing upwards of $20 million for a handful of clients including Mars, who would later name the agency its cinema agency-of-record, in a medium that normally operates on a month-to-month basis between marketer and vendor in lieu of any agency assistance. Working with vendors Screenvision and NCM (National CineMedia) MediaVest took national prime-time TV dollars out of the scatter market and made upfront-type annual deals, which delivered nearly 30% in savings for participating marketers. The negotiations included research metrics, expansion options at upfront pricing and select positioning. Participating marketers have told the agency the cinema efforts have produced three to six times better sales performances than their TV efforts.

The agency also completed a "youth upfront" in October with Fox One, News Corp.'s cross-platform sales division, for Activision Blizzard and its catalog of gaming titles, including "Guitar Hero World Tour" and "Call of Duty: World at War." As part of the deal MediaVest negotiated select sponsorships for those titles across all platforms "including network, syndication, cable and digital," said Mr. Tucker. "This was a multibrand and multiplatform negotiation to drive a portfolio of game properties, and we initiated it to secure seamless integration in the right environments and to leverage their budgets for maximum impact."

Driving innovation
Mr. Tucker said his plan for the agency is to build it across a variety of disciplines. "We want to drive a handful of areas that we can be successful in and also combine the needs of the business in the short, mid and long term," he said.

NEW BUSINESS
SCHERING-PLOUGH
$220 MILLION
TD AMERITRADE
$30 MILLION
TRACFONE
$10 MILLION-PLUS
NEW FACES
TIM CASTREE
Exec VP-managing director
ROBIN D'ELIA
Senior VP-group director of connectivetissue
DANIELLE BOTTARI
Senior VP-director of shopper marketing
WORK
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:
To raise awareness for Gillette's new razor MediaVest partnered the product with the SI.com Swimsuit Issue for an effort that included a viral component and a sweepstakes.
One of those areas includes its Shopper Marketing practice. In September the agency utilized the service offering to begin the rollout of the Walmart Smart Network. The in-store effort, for which MediaVest serves as general manager and strategic lead on overseeing content creation and programming, includes getting 27,000 screens in 2,700 stores to deliver relevant content to shoppers based on store location, screen, day, time and weather.

The agency's work is getting noticed not only by the C-suite at parent Publicis -- CEO Maurice Levy recently told Ad Age that he felt the agency was doing very well and that "the quality of what MediaVest is delivering is superb, and as a team they are formidable" -- but by some awards groups as well. And we're not just talking about Cannes Lions or Effies either. MediaVest's video-on-demand work for Dove Chocolate in 2008 was recently nominated for an Emmy award. Asked to alter the way women think about the product and increase market share, the agency created custom "fashioned content" called "My Moment at Fashion Week," a five-episode series chronicling the Fashion Week debut of designer Ashleigh Verrier. Dove product, signage, branded robes for the models and the creation of a Dove dress were integrated into the episodes, which appeared on the Dove Chocolate VOD channel via Glam.com. Sales jumped more than 30%, purchase intent by 14% and favorite brand status by 41%.

The agency also orchestrated a number of effective digital and non-digital campaigns in 2008. Despite its heavy focus on the digital space, MediaVest showed that it could still play just as effectively in the analog world by running an old-school print effort for Starbucks, which was looking to drive sales of its new store-bought coffee. According to MediaVest, Starbucks became the first advertiser to ever commandeer a magazine's masthead when it took over the masthead page in the April issue of Bon Appetit and turned into a wood-framed Starbucks chalkboard menu. The page listed Starbucks' variety of blends and Bon Appétit staffers identified their favorite Starbucks blends and food pairings. A full-page ad on the opposite page drove readers to the web to learn more about Starbucks' grocery offerings. The campaign eventually increased purchase intent of the coffee by 44%.

Raising awareness
MediaVest significantly helped raise awareness for Gillette's new razor through an online effort that saw the agency partner the brand with the SI.com Swimsuit issue. The effort, which included a Gillette sweepstakes, allowed users to take online clips from Sports Illustrated photo shoots, add instrumental tracks and edit them into 45-second web-ready movies containing Gillette messaging. The videos were shared on blogs, social networks and via e-mail. The effort helped increase brand awareness of the razor by 25% and purchase intent by 11% among men who shave everyday, and generated 65,000 sweepstakes entries.

In the area of research MediaVest worked with TRAnalytics to create a solution that directly linked TV ad viewership to sales by merging set top-box viewership data with demographics, psychographics and behavioral-purchase information. Using the data for one of its CPG clients, MediaVest was able to identify how it could improve allocations by as much as 50%.

In 2009 the agency has hit the ground running. Last month MediaVest brought in Comcast's $250 million regional planning and buying business consolidating all of the cable provider's media work within the agency. MediaVest has managed Comcast's national planning and buying business since 2006.