Saatchi to break mould in US

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SAATCHI & SAATCHI is poised to become the first multinational advertising group to set up a specialist media-buying business in the United States.

The move is an important development in the North American advertising industry, which has been slow to accept the unbundling of media-buying from the creation of advertisement campaigns.

Media-buying involves the selection and purchase of advertising space and airtime appropriate for specific campaigns. It is one of the few marketing concepts spawned in Europe and now being exported to Madison Avenue. Some experts believe the US has been slow to use media-buying specialists, because relationships between agencies and their clients 'have been long and comfortable'. But increasing pressure to trim the cost of campaigns and the proliferation of media has led to increasing demand for media research and buying specialists.

Saatchi, which has been racked by boardroom rows, is expected to set up the new business through Zenith, its European media-buying subsidiary.

A detailed report by Derrek Southon, a senior Zenith executive, following a three-month trip to the US, is understood to be firmly in favour of the move.

At present the group's two US agency networks operate in- house media-buying departments, but these are likely to be merged under the Zenith name. The merger is expected to be accompanied by substantial investment in new technology and research facilities.

Earlier attempts to merge and re-brand the departments were bitterly opposed by the group's US staff. But with both networks now run by former heads of Saatchi's European agencies, the plan is likely to be given the green light in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, there is growing speculation that Carl Spielvogel, one of America's best-known advertising personalities, will retire from a Saatchi subsidiary at the end of this year.

His expected departure follows the change of name of Backer Spielvogel Bates, where he is chairman, to Bates Worldwide last week. Mr Spielvogel is believed to have received a salary of about dollars 1m ( pounds 670,000) in 1993.