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Mindshare

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Mindshare is one of the world's leading media planning and buying networks, and the biggest by billings within WPP. Traditionally it is aligned with the J Walter Thompson and Ogilvy advertising networks, from whose media departments it was originally created, but also handles media for a wide range of third-party clients. In 2008, Mindshare unveiled a radical restructuring, designed to broaden significantly the range of marketing services it offers beyond simply media management. As a result, in addition to branded entertainment and sponsorship it also offers what it calls "invention": media-neutral creative solutions, which are designed to be executed by clients' existing advertising agencies or by sister units within WPP. COMvergence ranked Mindshare as the #2 media network in 2018 with global billings of $17.2bn

Competitors

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Clients

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Brand & Activities

Mindshare has around 115 offices spread across 70 countries. The group's two biggest clients are Unilever and Ford, for whom it handles the largest proportion of global billings. Its strongest territories include the US and China, where it is the leading media network. It has five offices spread across the US as well as three in Canada. China currently contributes around a quarter of Mindshare's new billings annually, and that local business is supported by a strong presence throughout the rest of Asia. It has traditionally ranked around the #4 spot by billings, but the "Mediapalooza" review frenzy of 2015, and the break-up of former global leader Starcom Mediavest allowed Mindshare to move up to the #2 in 2016.

Traditionally, Mindshare has described its job as "Media Investment Management", essentially a fancy term favoured by WPP to describe media planning and buying. However, in 2008, the group announced a complete overhaul of all its operations. All of Mindshare's existing departments were imported into a new structure which offers a full range of marketing services, including creative, rather than just media planning and buying. In simple terms, the agency claimed, "we will move to more integrated client teams with less focus on departments and more focus on teams sitting and working together... Our new focus will be on building client teams with positions and skills that go beyond the current media planning group structure."

As a result, Mindshare is essentially structured as four business groups: Client Leadership, Business Planning, Invention and The Exchange. Client Leadership offers the main point of contact with clients, traditionally the role known as account management, and is responsible for overall profitability and performance. Business Planning combines strategic and analytical resources to "to focus in on solving real business issues for the marketing director and CEO; business planning rather than simply communications plan development". Invention develops media-neutral creative plans, and has also absorbed existing sponsorship, branded entertainment and product placement units.

Towards the end of 2008, the group acquired London-based communications planning boutique Michaelides & Bednash. That agency's management team, Graham Bednash and George Michaelides took over the running of the local Invention department, with a particular emphasis on work for Unilever. However they departed the agency in 2012. Finally there is The Exchange, which is responsible for all digital and non-digital trading. At the same time as the restructure, the agency also introduced a new logo, and adjusted the official spelling of its name from MindShare to Mindshare. The overhaul of the business earned Mindshare the accolade of being Advertising Age's Media Network of the Year for 2008.

For 2016, Advertising Age estimated global revenues of $1.3bn, including $368m (or 28% of the total) from the US. Mindshare's UK outpost ranked as the local #6 media agency in 2016. Billings were estimated by Nielsen (in Campaign) at £566m. Key clients were Unilever, Marks & Spencer, Ford and Argos.

Like other media units within WPP, a large proportion of its bulk buying and some back office operations are handled through GroupM, which serves as the umbrella for all of WPP's media networks. GroupM also manages some specialised services such as sponsorship or branded content creation where there is no danger of conflict between clients from different group networks. Since this is not always the case, Mindshare continues to operate several satellite units of its own. Mindshare Advanced Techniques Group (ATG) and Mindshare Consumer Insight are two specialised planning units, offering consultancy services, econometric modelling and market research. A new proprietary offering launched in 2014 was The Loop, an adaptive marketing analytics offering which combines data feeds from multiple sources to offer strategic insights into media planning decisions. There are Loop "war rooms" installed in most of the network's main global hubs.

In 2017, Mindshare took over management of what was previously Ogilvy & Mather's Neo@Ogilvy digital media division. It continues to operate as a separate unit under the banner of new division Mindshare Performance Group.

Until recently there were also three joint ventures in Asia which sat loosely within Mindshare's orbit. Maximize was formed in 1998 as a joint venture with Batey Ads, itself part-owned by WPP, to operate in 10 countries in the Asia Pacific region. Media+ was a joint venture between Mindshare and United-Asatsu Communications in Taiwan. Motivator was a partnership formed throughout Asia between Mindshare and Euro RSCG in 1999. In 2004, the remaining outposts of these three units were rolled up into a separate media network within WPP under the name Maxus.

WPP also has a minority shareholding in independent French media agency KR Media, which is managed primarily through Mindshare. KR has a presence in the UK via a subsidiary unit within Mindshare, operating under the name Team UK Media.

Background

Mindshare was originally formed in 1997 to combine the former inhouse media department of JWT with O&M's media agency The Network. It was tested in the Asia Pacific region then rolled out in Europe, becoming fully operational throughout these two areas by mid-1999. Since then the brand has expanded relentlessly to encompass the US and various Latin American countries.The key development in the formation of Mindshare was the establishment of a US office in 1999. This caused several ripples within the industry, not least because WPP was able to tempt Irwin Gotlieb, previously president-CEO of MediaVest Worldwide, to run the US agency and chair the global network. Until the announcement of the US launch the two WPP group agencies were partners in The Alliance, a more informal joint initiative to buy TV airspace.

As well as replacing the The Alliance and JWT and O&M's media departments worldwide, Mindshare also gradually steamrollered into The Media Partnership, previously a joint venture between WPP and Omnicom. Formed in 1989, TMP was operational in 12 European territories in mid 1999. WPP gradually extricated itself from TMP during 2000.

One of the last Mindshare territories to be fully merged was South Africa, where Ogilvy's local arm also owned its own separate media shops. Until early 2001, the local Mindshare office represented only JWT South Africa; but in February that year, Ogilvy & Mather Rightford's media department and another shop, Optimum Media, itself a separate media agency owned by O&M Rightford, were merged into Mindshare, becoming the country's biggest media agency.

In late 2003, the group set up US-based Mindshare Entertainment in a partnership with broadcast network ABC to develop advertiser-friendly family-oriented television programming. Also in 2003, Mindshare and WPP stablemate OgilvyOne merged their respective interactive media subsidiaries to form a separate standalone unit mOne Worldwide, offering a broad range of digital media services including interactive TV, email marketing, online advertising and broadband. A search marketing unit, mSearch, was launched in 2005. At the beginning of 2006, however, mOne was dismantled, with Mindshare and OgilvyOne talking back direct control of their respective clients. Mindshare relaunched its own digital business under the name Mindshare Interaction.

In the US, Mindshare had an exceptionally strong year during 2006 after patchy performance over the previous two years. Bouncing back from several damaging client losses in 2005 (including Gillette, following its purchase by P&G), Mindshare converted several important pitches including Sprint Nextel and Wrigley. Those two wins earned the agency Adweek's nomination as Media Agency of the Year in 2006.

Last full revision 19th September 2017

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