SHANGHAI: Procter & Gamble is understood to be planning to put its media booking task, currently handled by a local broker, up for pitch with a view to aligning the function for its US$100 million China account with one of its three roster agencies.

Since 1999, the media booking function has been handled by Deluxe International, a local broker which was established in 1995.

Sources claimed that P&G's decision to review the function was sparked by the consumer goods company wanting to have better control of ad bookings on its slimmed down budget.

Globally, the company has been reducing advertising spend in line with the recessionary climate. In China, the company was spending as much as US$150 million a year ago.

Said a source of the review: "It all comes down to a question of the broker's role in China. A lot of companies are carried away by rate card discounts, but often you find that what has been booked bears little resemblance to the spot plans which have been developed."

Industry observers predict that the booking role will go to one of the agencies on P&G's roster, which includes MediaCom, Starcom's Quest Media and Zenith Media.

Of the three, Quest Media and Zenith are said to have the strongest chance of taking over the booking role.

"Quest Media handles the scheduling, which could give them a real shot at the account," said an agency source.

The joint-venture Quest Media operation was set up in 1999 when the Bcom3 team of Starcom and D'Arcy's Media Vest joined forces to successfully pitch for P&G's agency of record media assignment.

Quest Media took the business off Zenith, which was P&G's agency until early 2000. Zenith held the account for eight years, which helped it grow into a major media buying company in China.



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