The assignment will be unbundled both from media buying, which remains with Publicis Groupe's Starcom Mediavest Group, and P&G's brand agencies, which, until SMG created a P&G unit last summer, handled most media planning. Incumbents SMG and Grey Global Group's MediaCom have been invited to participate.
But in what could turn into a radical reversal for P&G, two unnamed non-roster shops also have been invited to pitch, less than two years after P&G consolidated nearly all its agency business with Publicis Groupe, which handles about 80% of P&G's advertising and media buying globally, and Grey, which handles the rest.
The winner, or winners, becomes the point person in P&G's communications planning, helping set the direction of both brand agencies and below-the-line shops.
In a speech to the American Association of Advertising Agencies media conference in February, Mr. Stengel called for new, comprehensive and non-TV centric systems for measuring marketing effectiveness.
A communications-planning agency would be the natural to develop and monitor such a system, said Rich Wilson, former VP-media for P&G and now consultant. "It does put all the management responsibility for all those [marketing disciplines] into one bucket." It could also ultimately help P&G streamline its below-the-line roster, he said.
P&G's U.S. media spending soared 25% last year to $2.5 billion, with 71.9% of that, up two percentage points from a year earlier, going to TV, according to TNS/Media Intelligence CMR.