L'Oreal To Consolidate Multibillion-Dollar Media Business With MEC

Shift to WPP Shop Comes on Heels of Massive P&G Media Agency Move

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Credit: Courtesy of L'Oréal

Another day, another shift of more than $2 billion in media billings as L'Oreal USA is preparing to consolidate its massive account with WPP's MEC.

The beauty giant launched its review of planning and buying for all media, including search, social and programmatic, early this spring. The decision, which comes only two days after news of Procter & Gamble's massive media shift, consolidates a fragmented roster of shops.

Interpublic's UM now handles TV and print buying; Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi supports digital buying; WPP's MEC handles planning for L'Oreal brand Lancome and other fragrances; and Publicis' Optimedia handles planning for various other L'Oreal brands.

MEC is part of GroupM, the WPP media agency network that also houses Mediacom, Maxus and Mindshare.

L'Oreal is the ninth biggest U.S. advertiser, with more than $2 billion in total ad spending and $1.5 billion in domestic measured media spending, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

"MEC brings a shared vision for the future of our ever-changing business, strong digital expertise and leadership with truly integrated teams built for us, and the tools and technology to develop Omnimedia solutions. Combined with the buying power of GroupM, we believe that we've found the perfect partner," said Nadine Karp McHugh, senior VP-omnimedia, strategic investments and creative solutions at L'Oréal USA.

"We are delighted by the appointment and the opportunity to expand upon our already strong relationship with L'Oréal," said Marla Kaplowitz, CEO, MEC North America in a statement. "It was apparent from the onset that our two companies share many of the same values and ambitions for growth. "

The shift is another blow for Publicis Groupe, whose Starcom Mediavest Group network has lost a number of large accounts recently, including the loss of P&G this week; Coca Cola a few months ago; and Anheuser-Busch InBev late last year.

For UM, this hurts. But the shop can assuage the loss with recent wins like Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson.

The L'Oreal review came roughly six months after Ms. McHugh moved into her post from Colgate-Palmolive Co., and less than 18 months after the company awarded digital media buying to DigitasLBi from Publicis Groupe sibling Moxie in November 2013.

The move reunites Ms. McHugh with her alma mater. Prior to joining Colgate in 2011, she led a 20-year career at WPP agencies, most recently at Group M. There, she led the Unilever account at Mindshare and helped develop a training program for that agency and sibling Maxus. At Colgate, she worked with WPP agencies, which during her watch were merged into the Colgate-specific Red Fuse, combining people from Y&R, Wunderman, VML, MEC and GHG.

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