News Corp U-turn? UM holds onto digital media buying, despite shock MediaCom deal

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 12 August 2015
Damian Eales

After the News Corp account was ripped from UM's stable (without a pitch) back in March and given to MediaCom, it now transpires that UM has the digital media buying part of the account – the bit many would argue is the most lucrative.

Despite News Corp saying it never gave the digital side of its business to MediaCom, AdNews understands this is not the case and that a decision to keep the digital business with UM was made only five to six weeks ago.

Speaking to AdNews at the News Corp upfronts recently, Damian Eales, managing director of News Corp’s metro and regional publishing, said News Corp initially wanted to considerer alternatives in terms of its digital agency, but stressed it “never” gave the digital side of its account to MediaCom and that's been “clear from day one”.

“We felt at the end of the day that UM were best placed to help us on that side of the fence and they've done a terrific job and I’m sure they will continue to a great job,” Eales said.

News of MediaCom swiping News Corp from UM came on the day that MediaCom went public with the results of its Ernst & Young audit, revealing that as well as the much publicised irregularities on Yum Brands, IAG and Foxtel, further inaccuracies had been identified on three client accounts, and MediaCom admitted that on four occasions it had breached its own policy on value banks by on-selling bonus inventory to clients.

AdNews understands that the news was not expected by UM and left about eight members of staff needing to be repositioned around the agency. At the time many industry players commented on the surprise and shock of the swift account move.

At the time of the deal, Eales said: “John Steedman recently approached us with a compelling demonstration of the benefits associated with putting all our business under one account. The deal John and Mark Pejic put on the table with MediaCom offers financial benefits and business synergies that we felt justified the change and made a lengthy pitch process an unnecessary encumbrance on the industry. 

“We are excited at the prospect of working with Mark and everyone at MediaCom.”

Eales thanked the company’s former media agency UM, saying: “We have had a very productive relationship with Mat Baxter and the team at UM over the past two and a half years. They’ve done a terrific job on our account, which we are grateful for. We wish them every success in the future.”

Mark Pejic left MediaCom in June after being appointed chairman of IPG Mediabrands Melbourne. No one has replaced him yet. 

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