The $600 million review for Philips Electronics' consolidated global media buying and planning business has taken a turn worthy of a soap opera. Two months after it was dropped from the review -- and from Philips' roster -- Bcom3 Group's MediaVest has returned as a finalist. That has casted shadow on the fate of another finalist, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media. The other finalist is Aegis Group's Carat.
The Dutch marketer is known for its secrecy and surprises. Late last year, it stunned the industry when it pulled back its creative assignments from Havas Advertising's Euro RSCG without warning, consolidating business at Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.
MediaVest's return to the review is believed to have come at the urging of Philips' North American executives, who have been happy with the media agency's work for the marketer. MediaVest, which handles broadcast buying for consumer electronics and personal-care products, is one of three media shops with Philips business in North America.
Havas Advertising's Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, handles print media buying. It was cut from the review after Philips pulled its creative assignments from parent Euro RSCG.
The media review, launched in February, originally included WPP Group's MindShare, Omnicom's OMD, and Zenith Media, jointly owned by Cordiant Communications Group and Publicis Groupe.
Omnicom's DDB is Philips' main creative agency in the U.S., having won its estimated $300 million consumer electronics and corporate group accounts last December. DMB&B handle domestic appliances, including Norelco and Philishave, lighting and medical systems.
Agencies in the media review have held a series of meetings with Philips in widely disparate locations, from Singapore to London to New York. Although the marketer said at the start that its goal was to have one worldwide media partner, but agencies believe the business could remain split, with MediaVest handling North America and Carat handling Europe. The final decision on the agencies will be taken in the coming week or so.