Not because I didn’t want OMD to win the business; it’s because the movement of an account as large as Unilever is not what anyone needs in January.
While I’m relieved, so should the CEOs and HR heads of all the media agencies barring OMD.
When an account as large as the Unilever account shifts, the consequent impact is that the agency which wins the account will have to undergo dramatic change.
There’s the issue of real estate, for example. Are the current office premises large enough to accommodate a team that can handle Unilever? Does the agency need new office space in only one city or in multiple cities?
These are concerns only for the agency which could have won the account.
For any other large agency a shift from Mindshare to OMD could have ended with horrifying consequences for no fault of their’s.
Simply put, where would the professionals that OMD would certainly require come from?
As I understand it, Mindshare’s Lever’s team is in the region of about 80.
So OMD would have had to shop for that many, give or take a few.
Some would, certainly, have come from Mindshare – but nowhere near the number required.
The rest would have had to come from the other agencies. Too bad for them. They didn’t pitch for the business, they didn’t lose the pitch, they didn’t win the pitch but they would have suffered the collateral damage – they would, each, have lost a few key people.
That’s bad enough.
It gets worse.
The cost of media professionals would have shot up. Eighty is not a small number of people – and a new agency would certainly have had to pay an arm and a leg for quality professionals. To hire 80, the new agency would have had to talk to, conservatively, at least 240 applicants or targets.
And then you would have the aspirants, neither applying for a position nor approached for one, who would wish they got a call.
So we would have a few hundred media professionals discussing, thinking about and dreaming about a change of job and a hefty salary hike.
That can’t be good news for the industry as a whole; we’re just about getting used to thinking that 2010 would be a more peaceful year.
Instead, we would have seen ‘appraisals’ being forced to come forward; we would have seen furious negotiations and increments which would have been forced by the mirage of a people shortage, which, in truth, would not exist.
That’s the overriding lesson that this pitch teaches us – that seemingly unconnected events could have a bearing upon one’s company. The need to, therefore, find ways to retain professionals in spite of developments such as the Unilever pitch is what all managers need to start working on.
That was not the only lesson; the other learning is the fact that the possible upheaval in the industry underlines that the media buying and planning business, despite all the technology and systems, is very much a people-dependant one.
Movement of a creative account has far less ramifications and causes far lower levels of people displacement.
Which begs the question: should media agencies accept or even contemplate pitching for a large account such as the Unilever account if the contract is only for a year? Is it worth all the stress?