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NEW YORK-Media developments took center stage during agency presentations to financial analysts at the annual PaineWebber Media Conference here last week.

Saatchi & Saatchi Co. CEO Charles Scott took advantage of the forum to announce the company will consolidate media buying for its U.S. agency clients under Zenith Media USA, a move that will represent an estimated $18 million investment for the agency holding company by the end of next year.

Mr. Scott said all but one client from Saatchi, Bates USA and Campbell Mithun Esty had signed off on the consolidation. The one dissenter is Hyundai Motor America, apparently edgy about Saatchi's relationship with Toyota Motor Sales USA. A Bates media group will keep handling Hyundai.

Saatchi plans to continue its expansion of Zenith Media Worldwide during the first quarter by moving into China, a region where the company is angling to become the largest media buyer.

Saatchi's move followed Interpublic Group of Cos.' headliner acquisition of Western International Media earlier this year. To underscore the coup-which cost Interpublic about $50 million-Western President-CEO Dennis Holt addressed the PaineWebber group during Interpublic's session and said Western is looking to acquire other properties and form an interactive new-media division.

Omnicom Group-parent of BBDO Worldwide, DDB Needham Worldwide and TBWA-hasn't announced its most recent media deal, a quiet acquisition of Shain Colavito Pensabene Direct, New York, a $40 million direct response media buying shop.

"I can't remember a year in which advertising agencies were at the center of as much major media news as they have been in 1994," Omnicom President-CEO Bruce Crawford told analysts. He is "continuing to assess the opportunities for growth in the media buying service business."

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