Nokia shifts media biz to MediaCom

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[Singapore] Finland's Nokia Corp. is moving its estimated $150 million media planning and buying business for Asia/Pacific to MediaCom, a Grey Global Group division that is now part of WPP Group's Group M.

Several agencies took part in the initial round but the fight narrowed to MediaCom and incumbent ZenithOptimedia, Nokia's media agency in Asia for the past decade. Nokia's creative account, at WPP's Bates Asia, was not part of the pitch.

Although Nokia's regional headquarters is in Singapore, about a third of Nokia's budget is invested in China, the world's largest mobile-phone market with total handset sales topping 100 million units a year. Nokia is China's market leader but faces renewed competition from Motorola Corp., whose trendy Razr model has been the best-selling handset model in China for the past 12 weeks. To keep its lead in China, Nokia appointed Chris Leong late last year as VP-marketing, mobile phones in China, based in Beijing. Previously, she was president of Grey, Singapore, and before that she led Bates' Hong Kong office.

One of the challenges in winning the account, according to an executive familiar with the pitch, was convincing Nokia that MediaCom "did exist, because in a lot of markets, they didn't have a strong presence in the past. The company has undergone a major restructuring in Asia since WPP's acquisition of Grey. In many markets, WPP merged Group M's Maxus division with MediaCom."

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