- Publicis Media is shuttering its Mediavest brand, according to MediaPost Communications, while The Wall Street Journal reports that WPP is planning to merge its digital ad firm Possible Worldwide into the agency Wunderman.
- Mediavest was founded in 1999 and merged with Spark in 2016 during a restructure at Publicis Groupe to create Mediavest | Spark, which will now be known as Spark Foundry — a change meant to signal the group's move past pure media business into new areas including analytics and technology, according to MediaPost. Some of Mediavest's major clients include Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Kraft Heinz, and MediaPost noted that it was one of the first "unbundled" full-service shops in the U.S.
- WPP's move is part of an ongoing effort to create a simpler agency structure for clients across marketing functions including data, digital, creative advertising and media buying, sources told the Journal. The holding company recently restructured its GroupM portfolio, merging agencies Maxus and MEC, and GroupM's Mindshare agency also absorbed the Ogilvy unit Neo in June.
The traditional agency business model has faced mounting criticisms in recent years, including that business structures are too complex and, stemming from that, often nontransparent. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Mediavest's client P&G, has put out a call for agencies to get simpler, and continued reorganization at the top of the industry — Publicis is one of the largest ad holding groups in the world while WPP is the largest — further illustrates the pressure agencies are feeling.
Brands have also been putting agency relationships under review and generally looking for cost savings along with more often taking marketing functions in-house. Another point of pressure for agencies is management and financial consultancies such as Accenture and Deloitte, which are expanding digital services divisions to snap up more marketing clients. Publicis' Spark Founding rebranding might serve as an acknowledgment that agencies must evolve to take on greater roles in technology and data to compete with consultancies that have long specialized in those areas.
Publicis Groupe, on the whole, is in the agency spotlight after it announced it was pulling out of all awards and trade shows for the next year to both cut costs and focus on building out a new artificial intelligence platform called Marcel — a move that's proved controversial, earning criticisms from industry leaders including WPP head Martin Sorrell.