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Universal McCann to merge with Lodestar

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Planning & Buying | July 12, 2006
The new entity, which will be called Lodestar Universal, will take care of the clients of both FCB-Ulka and McCann-Erickson, as well as pitch independently for business


Two of the & #BANNER1 & # Interpublic Group's media agencies are in for a major change. Universal McCann (McCann-Erickson's media agency) and Lodestar (the FCB Group's media arm) are to merge into one entity. This merged media entity will be called Lodestar Universal and will take care of the clients of both McCann-Erickson and FCB-Ulka, and also pitch independently for business.

Lodestar Universal will officially form on August 3, 2006. Lodestar's president, Shashi Sinha, will head the new agency as CEO. On the management board will be Nandini Dias and Arpita Menon from Lodestar and Anamika Mehta from Universal McCann, Delhi.

Lodestar Universal has been formed with the aim of becoming the second largest media group in India. It is being said that while the WPP Group has Group M as its media agency group, the IPG Group didn't have much of a consolidated media entity. Lodestar Universal is said to be IPG's answer to Group M.

Sinha tells agencyfaqs!, "As a result of this development, we will now be able to offer our clients the strengths of large-scale operations as we will grow tremendously in size." Lodestar Universal will now pool in and share the resources of both agencies, including tools, techniques and research systems (such as Lab Center, Lodestar's research unit). There will be special emphasis on giving value-added services to clients, in addition the regular media work.

It is learnt that while Universal McCann is a strong brand globally, Lodestar has quite a solid reputation in India. In fact, as per industry rumours, Universal McCann wasn't doing so well in India, and is believed to be 40 per cent of the size of Lodestar here. But then again, this ratio is reversed in markets such as Australia. With this merger, both Lodestar and Universal McCann will get an opportunity to bag international clients.

It is learnt that after India, a similar merger will take place in China, too. In some markets, this development has already taken place, as for example in the form of Universal FCB in Australia.

Lodestar Universal will start with around 150 employees. Its head office will be in Mumbai. It will initially roll out operations in six places, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi and Kolkata.

Some of the clients that Lodestar Universal will service are Tata Motors, Amul, L'Oreal and Mahindra & Mahindra from Lodestar's side, and Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson and Intel from Universal McCann's end.

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