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DUESSELDORF -- Procter & Gamble Co. is to rationalize its media planning on a country-by-country basis across Europe except the U.K., according to sources. Currently, P&G's roster creative agencies and their sister media specialists handle media planning by brand.

For instance, Saatchi & Saatchi handles the Pampers creative account and Zenith Media handles planning. P&G's other main roster media specialists in Europe are Grey Global Group's MediaCom and Starcom Mediavest, the media specialist owned by Bcom3 Group, also parent to Leo Burnett Co. and D'Arcy.

P&G is keeping its options open. It may allow multiple media specialists to plan media in some national markets. The procedure has already started in some markets, and it is expected that by the autumn all the local decisions will have been made. MediaCom already handles the entire media planning for all P&G brands in Austria and Switzerland.

P&G's decision to centralize media planning on a national basis makes particular sense in smaller markets such as the Czech Republic and the Baltic States. Assigning planning accounts in small markets on a brand basis is probably not profitable for the media agencies. Particularly in Eastern Europe it has often been difficult to set up media agencies because of lack of experienced local personnel so a quality service isn't consistent.

All media agencies involved in the review are sworn to keep mum about the procedure and are not allowed to talk to the press. Neither the involved agencies nor P&G would comment. -- Dagmar Mussey

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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