Walt Disney Co. will award its $500 million media business to Bcom3 Group's Starcom Worldwide. Starcom beat out longtime incumbent Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media North America. Zenith Media Services, New York was also in the pitch.
Starcom already handles the creative and media planning for Disney's theme park division, as well as doing corporate branding work for media conglomerate.
Disney's long association with Initiative started long back in the late 1980s when the company was Western International Media, which was founded and run by Dennis Holt. Western grew into the largest independent media buying service.
Senior Disney executives such as Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, have always prided themselves in being able to reach Mr. Holt quickly for any problem. But in the recent years Initiative has had a number of turnovers among its Disney senior account executives -- causing more concern at Disney.
Walt Disney Co. has had a difficult year, chiefly because of its ABC Television Network which has been hit by lower ratings and a soft advertising market. In addition, poor performing consumer products and home video division, has sent Disney's stock plummenting from the mid $40 a share range in May 2000 to around $20 today.