Mumbai: In an unusual pairing that could presage a broader future deal between two ad industry rivals, Mediacom Pvt. Ltd and incumbent Madison Communications Pvt. Ltd have teamed up to pitch for the hefty media planning and buying business of Procter and Gamble Co.’s India arm.
P&G India spends well over Rs100 crore annually and the business was up for review after seven years, say media buyers. An insider close to the development, who didn’t want to be named, said Madison and Mediacom pitched as a united front against other agencies, such as Carat Media Services India Pvt. Ltd and Starcom MediaVest Group. The pitches took place on 3 and 4 March.
“The brief from P&G’s side was to provide strategic planning inputs on two of their brands, Gillette and Head & Shoulders. The agencies were given six-eight weeks to prepare. While Madison and Mediacom are pitching for both strategic planning and buying duties of P&G, Carat is pitching just for planning alone,” says this insider.
Madison is India’s last major media specialist with no affiliation to a global network, but Mediacom is a media specialist under media giant GroupM, held by WPP Group Plc.
Madison and Mediacom have been handling media planning for P&G brands but buying has been under Madison alone. Carat is aligned with P&G’s media business globally and is believed to have pitched for the planning part of some P&G brands.
The joint pitch by Mediacom-Madison will resurrect talk that the two could be looking for a broader partnership that could see the emergence of a powerful media specialist in India with control of about 60% of all media spending and a powerful array of multinational and Indian clients.
Mint reported on 14 February that Mediacom was interested in a stake in Madison, which every global ad holding company has been eyeing.
Bharat Patel, chairman, Procter and Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Ltd, said he did not wish to comment on any questions related to the media review. Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, GroupM India, also declined to comment. Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of Madison, when asked about the joint pitch and the possibility of them selling some stake to Mediacom or any alliance, replied by email: “P&G policy does not permit me to comment on them.”
Divya Gururaj, managing director at Mediacom, was unavailable for comment.
Mediacom handles brands such as Sony, Pampers, Volkswagen, Edelweiss Capital, Dell and Wrigley’s chewing gum.
Madison does media work for brands such as Airtel, Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Tata Tea, McDonalds and Asian Paints. It has 15 business units across businesses such as advertising, media, outdoor, public relations, and employs about 500 employees in seven Indian cities. Its annual gross billings are Rs1,300 crore-plus, estimate media buyers.
There is also growing talk within Indian media buying circles that the COOs of Madison, Karthik Lakshminarayan and Harsha Joshi, have quit, with Lakshminarayan said to be joining Viacom Inc. in India as head of planning and strategy. Viacom has a 50:50 joint venture with TV18 group. However, both Lakshminarayan and Joshi denied that they were leaving the agency.