Strong indications emerged at the weekend that MediaReach OMD, a media independent specialist firm, may resign its Etisalat Nigeria media planning and buying account as a result of global realignment in the business interests of its global affiliate, OMD Media.
Investigations have revealed that about four months ago, Etisalat called for a global pitch. The pitch was aimed at consolidating the whole of Etisalat's media account with one agency globally.
According to a source in the telecoms company, some of the agencies invited for the pitch include Starcom MediaVest, Mindshare, OMD Media, Initiative Media, Mediaedge, PHD and Mediacom.
It was further gathered that OMD Media, Starcom MediaVest and Mindshare, declined to participate in the pitch on accounts of conflict of interests as they already handle telecoms accounts in some of the markets where Etisalat operates. OMD Media, for instance, handles the global media account of Vodafone, a direct competitor of Etisalat in some markets other than Nigeria’s.
Further investigation revealed that most of the agencies that participated in the pitch have local affiliates in Nigeria. Industry pundits, therefore, strongly believe that the eventual winner may handle the Nigeria arm of the account through its affiliate in line with the global consolidation goal of Etisalat.
A principal staff in the marketing department of Etisalat Nigeria, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the development. According to him, “MediaReach has been a wonderful consultant and partner to work with. You will agree with me that the partnership between Etisalat Nigeria and MediaReach OMD has produced some of the best and most innovative media strategies in Nigeria. We will surely miss their knowledge and expertise which they have brought to bear positively on our business in the past few years.”
However, there are also some individuals in the Marketing Department of Etisalat Nigeria who contend that unlike advertising creative that could be produced in one market and used globally, media planning and buying, like public relations, is largely a local issue and so should strongly be based on an agency’s knowledge and understanding of the Nigerian market.
Last year Airtel Nigeria employed the same argument to retain Blue Flower PR despite a change in its global alignment which would have handed over the Account to Ogilvy PR.
Efforts to reach MediaReach OMD Managing Director, Tolu Ogunkoya, for comments on the development proved abortive as he was said to be out of the country visiting the company’s regional offices in Ghana and Cameroun.
It was also gathered that negotiations have reached an advanced stage to take the partnership between Mediareach and OMD beyond affiliate relationship to equity investment by the latter on the former.