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Omnicom and Publicis emerge as big winners in global Disney review

The Walt Disney Co. has concluded its global estimated $2.2 billion media review with Publicis Media and Omnicom Media Group emerging as the big winners, according to several people close to the matter.

Those people told Ad Age that Omnicom retained the planning and buying duties in the U.S. and Canada for Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Entertainment Group after winning those responsibilities in May. It also retained the media business in the U.S. and Canada for Disney’s movie divisions including Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios, which OMD first won without a review in 2013. Omnicom was additionally awarded media duties for ABC, Disney Channel, Disney Freeform, National Geographic and FX Productions and Networks in the U.S. and Canada, according to the people.

Omnicom will service the account through a bespoke unit called OMG23, named after Disney’s fan club, D23—23 representing 1923, the year Walt Disney Co. was founded.

Publicis won global buying and planning duties for Disney theme parks and Disney+, the company’s forthcoming streaming service, the people said. Those people added that Publicis will handle the international business outside the U.S. and Canada for the aforementioned pieces of business OMD won and retained. Publicis will also create a bespoke unit for Disney, according to the people, and recently-acquired data marketing company Epsilon was included in that offering. It is unclear what other Publicis agencies will make up the dedicated unit or what it will be named.

The review was managed by consultancy MediaLink. WPP did not compete for the majority of the account due to a conflict of interest relating to current client Comcast but it did retain buying and planning duties for the company in India, according to the people. The people said Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat also participated in the review but walked away with nothing.

Disney, Omnicom, Publicis, WPP, Dentsu and MediaLink did not return requests for comment.

In May, some of the 21st Century Fox assets acquired by Disney for $71 billion consolidated their media business with OMD, taking planning and buying duties from Publicis Media’ Zenith and MDC Partners’ Assembly. Those entities OMD won included Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Entertainment Group. That decision was only the first step in a larger process by Disney to streamline its planning and buying business following the acquisition, which closed in March.

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According to people close to the matter, none of MDC’s agencies participated in the recent review. MDC’s Assembly had won planning duties for Twentieth Century Fox Film and Entertainment and FX in 2016.


After the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, its president Peter Rice shifted to chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney’s Media Networks unit. Fox’s Dana Walden became chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. The acquisition included Disney’s combined ownership stake in Hulu with 21st Century Fox plus Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Networks, and National Geographic.

Disney’s total U.S. ad spending in 2018 was $3.1 billion, according to estimates from Ad Age’s Datacenter, which also placed the company’s measured media spend in the U.S. at $1.1 billion. According to the people who spoke for this story, the business that was up for review is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion.

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