Following the approval of AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner and all its properties, the newly formed WarnerMedia group has decided to consolidate the entirety of its U.S. media business with Omnicom’s Hearts & Science.
This means the agency will now handle both traditional, or linear, and digital media for all Warner Brothers, HBO and Turner properties in addition to that of the telecom giant behind the entire conglomerate. In short, Omnicom Media Group, which previously handled media for half of what is now WarnerMedia, has won the other half.
The news also represents an expansion of Omnicom’s relationship with Warner Brothers, which began in 2011 when it won the account away from WPP.
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed to Nitro-Net that it will soon become official and that all involved agencies have been informed, though the relevant contracts have not yet been finalized.
A spokesperson for WarnerMedia declined to comment. Omnicom Media Group referred to the client.
The move reportedly occurred without a review, and it marks a significant coup for Hearts & Science, which Omnicom created in 2015 to handle P&G’s media planning and buying account in the United States before picking up the business of the industry’s second-biggest advertiser, AT&T, nine months later.
Parties involved in the move said that it occurred in order to address several concerns, including efficiency, the newly-formed conglomerate’s desire to increase effectiveness across its considerable portfolio, as well as creating new opportunities for media innovation by placing digital and traditional media duties in one place. On the long-term strategy front, AT&T also just announced plans to launch its own streaming service, centered on HBO and designed to compete with rival offerings from Netflix and Disney.
Dentsu Aegis Network and Horizon Media will lose business in the deal.
The latter independent agency won Turner’s media buying business in 2014 after a competitive review. That client, whose properties include Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, Turner Sports and Turner Classic Movies, handles planning duties in-house and will continue to do so; at the time of the last move, analysts estimated its annual paid media spend in the U.S. at approximately $150 million.
Merkle picked up Warner Brothers’ $250 million digital media account in an upset victory in late 2016, only a few months after Dentsu acquired a majority stake in the data marketing firm for an estimated $1.5 billion. Merkle previously had an established relationship with HBO, with which it collaborated on programmatic buying efforts.
A Dentsu spokesperson referred to the client. Horizon Media has not yet provided a statement.
According to Kantar Media, Warner Brothers, Turner and HBO spent a combined total of approximately $800 million on paid media in the U.S. last year and $415 million in the first half of 2018.
One party with knowledge of the deal estimated that Hearts & Science will gain just over $1 billion in incremental billings. Omnicom on the whole will add approximately $500 million since its other agencies already handled traditional media for HBO and Warner Brothers.