As first reported by Advertising Age (Ad Age Daily Fax, Nov. 21), Paramount moved its national TV buying account on Nov. 21 from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather to MacManus Group's TeleVest, New York. Billings could be upward of $100 million, say executives close to the studio, though its 1995 billings, as tracked by Competitive Media Reporting, were about half that.
No agency wants to lose an account of that magnitude. But the Paramount shift would make it easier for O&M to merge its media operations with those of sister WPP agency J. Walter Thompson Co., which earlier this year won the media account of Paramount rival Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
An O&M/ JWT media juggernaut would have network TV billings of about $1.5 billion, vs. TeleVest's $1.2 billion.
Though, officially, both WPP agencies continue to deny that any such plan is in the works, executives with knowledge of the situation say a merger of the media departments is likely next year. WPP has already combined media operations of its two shops in Canada and Thailand.
Other possible conflicts in the U.S. could be American Express Co. (O&M) and Citibank (JWT); Nynex Corp. (O&M) and Sprint Corp. (JWT); and IBM Corp. (O&M) and Sun Microsystems (JWT). There are a number of shared clients, including Ford Motor Co., Eastman Kodak Co., Kraft Foods and Unilever.