MEC, until recently known by the mouthful of Mediaedge:cia, is one of four media networks within WPP, partnering Mindshare, MediaCom and Maxus, and sitting under the overall umbrella of GroupM. It was formed from the merger in 2002 of The Media Edge, previously a division of Young & Rubicam, with highly regarded Eurocentric media agency CIA, acquired by WPP earlier that year. In 2014, MEC was the world's #7 media agency with billings of $26.8bn (according to Recma). The complicated Mediaedge:cia tag was officially dropped in 2010 in favour of initials MEC. After a strong decade in the 2000s, more recent performance has been a little bumpy, especially in the US. However global performance was lifted considerably in 2014 by the capture of the consolidated $1bn Vodafone mobile account, MEC's biggest gain for several years.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Nov 2016: MEC CEO Charles Courtier is to step down at the beginning of 2017 to "focus on interests outside the company". He will be succeeded by Tim Castree, most recently managing director of programmatic platform Videology. Courtier's departure will coincide with the transfer of MEC's flagship account in the US, AT&T, to Omnicom's Hearts & Science agency.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Aug 2016: It's been another great week for Omnicom in account assignments, this time at WPP's expense. AT&T has consolidated the bulk of its marketing with the US-based group. BBDO already handled creative for the main AT&T brand, but it will also take over DirecTV from long-time incumbent Grey. At the same time, all media will move from MEC - it has been that agency's biggest account - to Omnicom's newly created Hearts & Science unit, created last year to handle P&G in North America. In an interview with Ad Age, AT&T's CMO Lori Lee and head of advertising Fiona Carter said Hearts & Science's digital and data-driven approach gave it a "slight edge" over WPP. MEC was said to have been confident it would retain the business until the final announcement. The account loss is likely to cast a cloud over WPP's 4Q results announcement next Wednesday.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Jun 2016: In another battle between WPP and Omnicom, AT&T called a review of its equally huge creative and media budgets, which are currently split between Omnicom's BBDO and WPP's MEC respectively. The review will also encompass AT&T's recently acquired DirecTV, whose creative resides currently at WPP's Grey. The telecoms giant has said that it wants to consolidate all its business with one of the two holding companies. "We're looking to improve efficiencies, quality and consistency across the portfolio," said an AT&T spokesman. And in a nod towards last week's furore about non-transparent media practices, the statement also added: "We will examine the costs in the past to determine fair and reasonable pricing for creative and media buying."
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: Another big "mediapalooza" review reached its conclusion with the decision by L'Oreal USA to consolidate all its US media planning and buying with GroupM's MEC. The WPP-owned shop had previously managed local planning for selected luxury brands, but now wins digital from Publicis network DigitasLBi and TV and print from Interpublic's UM. Billings are estimated at around $850m annually. It is MEC's biggest win by far this year. Publicis Groupe moved quickly to limit negative media coverage over another account loss so soon after the P&G decision last week, pointing out that the L'Oreal digital business represented only 0.1% of its annual revenues, or little more than $10m. MEC doubled down with another win this week, appointed as the first global media partner for web hosting company GoDaddy.com. It takes over US duties from Initiative.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Interpublic scored a significant victory as another of the major "mediapalooza" account reviews reached its conclusion. Johnson & Johnson is to consolidate all global media planning and buying with J3, the dedicated unit within the UM network. J3 already managed media planning for Johnson & Johnson in North America, but took back buying duties from OMD in September. Now it will also take over overall control of J&J's media business in Asia Pacific from OMD, and adds responsibility in several important European markets (including the UK, France and Russia) where the business had previously been managed by Primus, a division of MEC. Total billings are around $2.6bn globally, including $1bn in the US. UM's latest gain from the consolidation comes to probably another $1bn.
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Free to all users | see full profilefor current activities: The Media Edge was originally formed in 1994 as a standalone unit of NW Ayer, led by Beth Gordon, to manage AT&T's $330m buying business. The agency operated as a media independent although ownership remained with what was then Ayer's parent company, Adcom. In 1996, Ayer was acquired by MacManus Group, and The Media Edge was put up for sale. In the resulting bidding war, Young & Rubicam came up tops, paying a modest $3.5m for the agency. A year later, The Media Edge began to absorb Y&R's existing North American media operations. In 1998, when Y&R went public, the format was rolled out worldwide across 25 other countries, in most cases by rebranding existing Y&R media departments.
In some European markets, Y&R was already a shareholder in local offices of Mediapolis, the fledgling media network of Euro RSCG. That relationship was gradually dismantled following the merger of Mediapolis with Media Planning, and the two partners split the various local outposts between them. The Mediapolis offices in Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary became The Media Edge, while Media Planning took over the UK, France and Polish operations. In 1999, all US and international operations were amalgamated as a single operating division, under Beth Gordon's command.
Meanwhile, Young & Rubicam was also involved in tentative merger negotiations with CIA, then an independent media network owned by Chris Ingram's Tempus group. No deal took place, although the two companies joined forces in Germany, with Tempus acquiring a large minority stake in Media Edge's local office there. A year later in 2000, Y&R itself became an acquisition target, snapped up by WPP. A liaison with CIA came back on the agenda in 2001 as a result of WPP's interruption of the agreed merger of Tempus and Media Planning Group. WPP made it clear at the outset of its hostile bid for Tempus that its intention was to combine the two businesses. Despite a temporary change of heart by Martin Sorrell following the September 11th attacks, the takeover was successful and two companies were merged towards the end of 2001. This caused a few client conflicts, not least in Germany where The Media Edge represented the toothpaste brands of Colgate-Palmolive, while CIA handled rival manufacturer Henkel. The situation was resolved when the group agreed to maintain two separate offices to handle each account.
The newly formed MediaEdge:CIA began 2002 with another acquisition, of small UK media shop Purely Media, based in Manchester, and later acquired leading Italian independent Media Club. It also strengthened its operations in Spain by acquiring a 49% shareholding in local agency Focus Media in 2004. In MEC sealed a deal to acquire a 49% shareholding in Fiat Media Centre, the inhouse planning and buying unit of Fiat Group. That deal was completed in 2006, at which point Fiat Media Centre was rebranded as MC2 Mediacommunication. See full profile for current activities
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