Wal-Mart Review Pits Brother Against Brother (Or Sister Against Sister)

Over at Adweek they’ve printed the 10 finalists in the Wal-Mart review, said to be worth approximately $570 in billings per year.
In addition to the two incumbents, GSD&M and Bernstein-Rein, the others include…are you ready for this?

WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather and JWT, both in New York; Publicis Groupe’s Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, both in New York, and Leo Burnett in Chicago; and Interpublic Group’s Draft FCB Group in Chicago and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.

That’s right. WPP, IPG and Publicis are essentially pitting divisions of their own companies against each other. This review could cost each agency millions. I don’t care if Publicis has a 3 in 10 chance of winning Wal-Mart because 3 Publicis agencies are pitching it. Pick the best one, and let that agency pitch on Publicis’ behalf. Otherwise, you’re wasting the resources of what is, at the end of the day ONE company.
I’ve written about this before. It doesn’t make any sense. What other company would piss stockholder money away like that? I suppose you could make a case for the holding company model, but this ain’t part of it.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Well, it’s highly likely that shareholders don’t give shit if sister agencies compete, so long as it increases the chances of winning the business. It’s also highly likely that the sister agencies are no more related to each other than to the competitors. Most of us have spent time working at WPP, IPG or Publicis shops and felt absolutely zero kinship with other agencies in the network. Hell, most of the sister agencies have competing clientele. In the end, it’s all about money. These shops won’t just battle sister agencies — they’d gladly battle their own flesh-and-blood sisters.

  2. i think some healthy competition among holding company siblings is a good thing. thankfully, there are still distinctions between the JWTs and Ogilvys of the world. I think ultimately it makes both of them better if they have to compete with each other once in awhile, along with agencies from outside of their holding co.

  3. I agree with David. The holding company model for ad agencies is inane and, as public companies, they should be accountable for spending. Yes, there is the argument that having more agencies in the pitch does increase their chances of success but this kind of all-hands-on-deck approach would be laughable in other industries. Finally, the distinctions among large agencies are really not quantifiable. Can we really say, if we remove ourselves from our egocentric ad agency view of the business world, that there is a vast difference among holding company agencies? Each is about as capable as the next of producing pure brilliance or wholly unpolished turds.

  4. Dean,
    I normally love when someone agrees with me, but this post was written by Danny G.