MEC Global / Wavemaker

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MEC, until recently known by the mouthful of Mediaedge:cia, is one of several media networks within WPP, partnering Mindshare and MediaCom, 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 2016, MEC was the world's #6 media agency with billings of $25.81bn (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. The loss of AT&T in 2016 was a serious blow. The following year, WPP announced the merger of MEC with smaller sibling Maxus under a new name. This was eventually revealed as Wavemaker.

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MEC Austria MEC Ireland 
MEC Denmark  MEC Netherlands 
MEC Finland  MEC Poland 
MEC Germany  MEC Switzerland 
MEC Hungary  MEC Manchester 
MEC UK  

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Sep 2017: WPP finally confirmed the name for the merger of MEC and Maxus. The new network will be called Wavemaker, a name inherited from the former MEC's content development division. The group's explanation for the choice of the name is typically contrived: "Making waves happens when media, content and technology come together - activating against our unrivalled purchase journey understanding for the clients we represent." CEO Tim Castree added, "Our purpose is to provide advertisers with the power to transform and grow their business through our Purchase Journey obsession". The network's logo abbreviates the name to simply WM, supposedly, the PR bumf claims, a reflection of its heritage in the W of WPP and M of GroupM. How *do* they come up with this stuff? The merger of MEC and Maxus is expected to complete by January 2018. The combined business will have 139 offices in 90 countries and billings of $38bn.

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Aug 2017: WPP's GroupM media division is expected to unveil the new name for the merged MEC-Maxus network by the end of August. One bit of advance news from CEO-designate Tim Castree is that it won't begin with an M. "We thought it was time to unleash ourselves from the burden of only 'M' words," he told Campaign. He also revealed that pan-regional leadership will be dropped in favour of country-by-country management. Local managers of the top eight markets - which together account for around 70% of business - will report directly to him, while the remaining markets will report to an existing country leader in the same region. "We absolutely want to reorient the business as such so that we eliminate the idea of overhead roles versus revenue roles.... We're retooling the way we think about the business where it's really about clients and markets."

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jun 2017: WPP announced the surprise merger of its two smaller media networks MEC and Maxus in the pursuit of greater operational efficiency. The combined business will adopt a new name, as yet undisclosed. MEC's current leader Tim Castree will become CEO of the merged network; Maxus chief Lindsay Pattison was recently named as chief transformation officer across all WPP media networks. The merger is expected to take six months to implement and will affect all offices except India, where the substantial local Maxus agency will continue to exist as a standalone unit alongside the renamed MEC office. The combination of administrative duties and geographic offices could lead to some redundancies, but some of these savings will be used to fund the expansion of WPP's separate digital media agency Essence. This will add traditional media capabilities, though it will remain "digital first", and will also build a wider geographic footprint, replacing Maxus as the fourth pillar to WPP's GroupM umbrella. The two main media networks within GroupM, Mindshare and Mediacom, are unaffected by the changes.

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.


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Background

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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