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GroupM merges Essence and MediaCom in global media shake-up

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By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

April 26, 2022 | 5 min read

Media agencies Essence and MediaCom are being merged to form a new company, with major clients including Mars and Unilever backing the decision.

GroupM, the media network owned by British holding company WPP, announced the shake-up today (April 26) while also confirming it had merged recent acquisition Neo into the Mindshare brand.

groupm logo

GroupM has announced the merger of Essence and MediaCom

As well as integrating its subsidiaries, it has announced the launch of GroupM Nexus, a new performance media outfit drawing on talent from Finecast, Xaxis and GroupM Services.

Nick Lawson, who was previously the global chief executive officer of MediaCom, will lead the new company, dubbed EssenceMediacom, while Kyoko Matsushita, formerly CEO of Essence, will lead WPP’s operations in Japan. GroupM Nexus will be led by Xaxis global chief exec Nicolas Bidon.

In a statement, GroupM boss Christian Juhl said: ”We are passionate about the opportunity technology gives us to help our clients navigate constant change and achieve their growth goals. The future of marketing is outcomes-driven, supported by audience-first planning and continually improving, AI-enabled performance standards.

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”Through GroupM Nexus and our agency powerhouses Mindshare, Wavemaker and EssenceMediacom, we are building a tech-enabled future, side-by-side with our clients, that is accountable to advertisers’ growth goals and to our vision for an advertising ecosystem that works for everyone.”

GroupM accounts for a huge portion of WPP’s business, bringing in almost 40% of its net revenue last year, and Essence and MediaCom are key parts of its network.

The new outfit will include 9,000 staff from across the world, combining expertise in programmatic, AI, cross-channel optimization, search and social media, as well as encompassing GroupM’s addressable content and TV offerings.

In its statement, GroupM said the merger would provide clients with the chance to access Essence’s digital expertise and MediaCom’s media capabilities simultaneously, rather than contracting both businesses.

The merged agency model has been used by Google, Mars and NBCUniversal for some time, the statement said.

Joshua Spanier, vice-president of marketing at Google, said: “Our long-term partnership with Essence, complemented by Mediacom, is helping us deliver on our ambitious marketing goals. The combination of smart insights, analytical rigor and expansive creative thinking, scaled around the world, has been unlocking new opportunities and delivering stronger impact; we’re excited about this next step forward in our work together.”

Luis Di Como, executive vice-president global media at Unilever, added: “Digitization is changing how consumers live, play and shop and is, therefore, reshaping our industry at speed. But in order to provide consumers with an effortless end-to-end experience, as an industry we must utilize new skills and expertise and harness new ways of working. We are encouraged by the changes announced today by GroupM that will see greater integration between data-driven marketing, multichannel audience planning, performance and strategic media expertise.”

Lawson added: ”EssenceMediacom will not only help our clients see the bigger picture and reimagine what’s possible, it will also provide opportunities for our people to upskill and train in new areas, further enriching and enhancing their careers.”

On the creation of GroupM Nexus, Bidon said it would ”unite leading media talent, digital services excellence, cutting-edge AI technology and unique scaled partnerships into a new cross-channel performance organization with one purpose: power growth for our people, our agencies and the amazing brands they represent”.

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