Strategy’s 2000 Best Media Operation: Bronze: MindShare Canada

MindShare Canada, an operation combining the media departments of WPP Group agencies J. Walter Thompson, Enterprise Creative Selling and Ogilvy & Mather, launched in May of this year. And if the results of Strategy's Best Media Operation survey are any indication,...

MindShare Canada, an operation combining the media departments of WPP Group agencies J. Walter Thompson, Enterprise Creative Selling and Ogilvy & Mather, launched in May of this year. And if the results of Strategy’s Best Media Operation survey are any indication, things are off to a good start. In a confidential poll, media sellers ranked MindShare third among this country’s media agencies.

According to managing director Karen Nayler, the process of combining the three organizations has proved remarkably smooth. All had collaborated unofficially for the past four years. And all share the same philosophy – namely, that the business is about managing the client’s media investment, rather than simply buying media.

Nayler says the decision to join forces reflects the ever-increasing importance of media within the overall marketing picture. ‘That’s where the bulk of the [advertising] dollars are being spent,’ she says. ‘So more learning on how to strategically allocate those dollars and get as much return on investment as we can is key.’

U.K.-based WPP introduced MindShare into the Asian and European markets in September 1997, and into the U.S. last fall. The Canadian division enjoys access to the resources of an international network – resources that include a wealth of invaluable research, Nayler says.

At present, MindShare Canada employs 80 people, and anticipates billings of $330 million for the year. Clients include IBM Canada, Tim Hortons, Kraft Canada, Kodak Canada, Merrill Lynch Canada, Mattel Canada and Kimberly-Clark of Canada.

Nayler says MindShare builds every plan on a foundation of consumer insight and creative expression, with a view to getting the maximum return on the advertiser’s media investment. A key to this, she argues, is making sure that the media management people are actively involved in the development of creative product.

‘It’s something that we believe in strongly,’ she says. ‘Media needs to be meshed with the message. We’ve worked hard to make sure that we are very strong partners with the creative agencies, so that we are involved right at the beginning of a project, through the formal briefing process. We don’t just want to be brought in when it’s time to write a media plan.’

MindShare’s philosophy reflects changing attitudes on the client side. Increasingly, Nayler says, advertisers are recognizing the importance of media – particularly as they attempt to grapple with the potential impact of phenomena such as convergence.

Media agencies, too, are struggling to come to grips with the implications of these trends. While no one has any answers yet, Nayler says she’s heartened to see increasing dialogue among top executives in the media management business.

‘At very senior levels we have started talking to each other about … working together to see how we can actually do some good stuff for the advertiser,’ she says. ‘It has facilitated those kinds of conversations, which is great.’

Also in this report:

- Gold: The Media Edge p.80

- Silver: M2 Universal p.82

- Best Media Operation, Quebec: Bos p.94

- Best Media Director: Hugh Dow, M2 Universal p.96

- How we identified the winners p.100