Magazine article ADWEEK

IPG to Create New Role, Mission for Magna Global: CEO Search, Offerings beyond TV Part of Unit's Transformation

Magazine article ADWEEK

IPG to Create New Role, Mission for Magna Global: CEO Search, Offerings beyond TV Part of Unit's Transformation

Article excerpt

NEW YORK Last month, when Bill Celia, CEO of Interpublic Group's Magna Global, parted ways with the company, many in the media world believed IPG would shutter the eight-year-old unit that helps negotiate TV rates for IPG's big buying and planning shops, Initiative and Universal McCann. In fact, just the opposite is true. With Celia gone, IPG is intent on expanding Magna's scope beyond its current primary role of helping the IPG media agencies prepare for the upfront network television marketplace.

Plans for the new Magna--or Magna 2.0 as insiders refer to it--are still being devised. But the search for a new leader is under way, a task that IPG would like to complete by the end of the first quarter, sources said. Those sources also say that, preferably, the winning candidate would have expertise in digital and emerging media platforms as well as traditional media. Executives involved in the revamp are exploring ways to expand Magna's marketplace intelligence-gathering capabilities to print, digital and radio. They also say the unit may develop a process for testing on a regular basis new ways to go to market, such as auctions and other alternafives to the upfronts.

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The task of shaping Magna's makeover falls to the two shops that will benefit most from its services--UM and Initiative. In fact, for the first time, Magna will report to executives at those two agencies: Richard Beaven, North American CEO, Initiative, and Mary Gerzema, U.S. president, UM.

Previously, Magna reported to various IPG executives, perhaps leading to some of the confusion over the unit's role. Most recent ly, Celia reported to the IPG media council, headed by Philippe Krakowsky, evp, strategy and corporate relations at IPG. Prior to that, he reported to Mark Rosenthal, who was CEO of the now defunct IPG Media, which oversaw Initiative and UM in 2005 and 2006 before being folded in October 2006. Earlier, Cella reported to the CEO of IPG itself.

When Magna was first formed in 2001, its main mission was to aggregate the TV spending (then close to $9 billion) of IPG's biggest media shops, Initiative and UM, in order to gain better pricing in the marketplace. The idea was basically to import a model that had been used in several European markets, including Germany and the U.K., where clout is key when it comes to buying TV time.

(Over the past seven years, Magna has expanded to almost 20 overseas markets, an expansion guided by Magna Worldwide chairman Ira Carlin, who like Cella, is a UM veteran. With overseas expansion plans complete, Carlin quietly left the company late last year, just a short time before Cella.)

But as Gerzema notes, buying clout today is part of the price of entry to doing business for the big media agencies. "We all deliver that," she said. At the same time, part of Magna's offering has been to gather marketplace information to help buyers at the agencies better assess market conditions and predict how pricing will play out across different ad categories, dayparts or networks. As the TV market grows crowded with new outlets, and other complications, such as the writers' strike, are introduced, "the notion of intelligence from a centralized resource to both our brands becomes more compelling," she said. …

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