WPP acquired Cordiant in the month of August. At the time, Zenith Media became a part of Publicis in most of the countries. But not so in India and eight other countries where Cordiant either had the complete ownership of Zenith Media, or if not, a larger stake as compared to Publicis.
Though, initially there were talks of Publicis buying out Cordiant’s stake, and retaining Zenith as a part of Publicis group across the globe, it did not happen due to a lack of consensus on the acquisition cost.
And hence in October, Zenith Media, India became a part of WPP Media, now Group M. Confirms Andre Nair, CEO, Group M, India & South Asia, “This is true and a matter of public record. Zenith India is a wholly owned WPP company since October with WPP's global purchase of Cordiant.”
Talking to exchange4media in August 2003, Roland Crouch, Regional Operations Director, Asia Pacific, Zenith Optimedia had stated, “Zenith India has a franchise agreement with Zenith Worldwide and in the event that a sale is not agreed we would terminate the franchise agreement and take back ownership of the brand name.”
Looking at the scenario now, it is evident that talks have failed and Zenith Worldwide would terminate the franchisee agreement. Would the agency be rechristened or would it merge with one of Group M’s existing agencies? As per Nair, “It is a part of Group M in India and will have access to Group M research and tools. It will definitely not be merged with either Maximize or Mindshare. And yes, the name will change within the next three months.”
As per media reports, for Cox & Kings, Zenith has been assigned media responsibilities on RMG David’s recommendations. Has it been done to pump in more energy in Zenith? Nair is not impressed by the suggestion. Says he, “The Cox & Kings appointment was made over a month ago and has nothing to do with recent developments.” He adds, “Yes, they have recently lost the Hyundai account but we have plans in play to more than replace that. So, it's not true to say that it requires energy. Led by Praveen Tripathi and his managers, they are a vital organisation that will only become stronger.”
Now that Zenith is a part of Group M, are the plans for its future growth being laid out? As per Nair, the plans are of course under way. “It is an important element of Group M. Over the next 12 months, we plan to build on its strengths leveraging group resources to follow the success of the other Group M companies,” he states.