Disney’s $1bn media review looks a PR disaster in the making – but that won’t change much

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Much speculation about Disney’s $1bn media review – set to be concluded imminently – particular the somewhat onerous terms and conditions said to be attached to it.

Most controversially – and Disney hasn’t confirmed any of this – is the reported requirement for the winning media agency to spend more of its other clients’ money on Disney channels and properties. “Special consideration” as it’s apparently known.

Plus there’s the usual fee reduction and a seeming requirement that the agency makes much of its money from media rebates (not popular in the US) rather than Disney.

Omnicom and Dentsu Aegis Network, which already handle chunks of Disney, are said to be the favourites. Publicis is also tipped to win something. WPP is not pitching, supposedly because of conflicting existing client Comcast, now the owner of Sky among much else.

Former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has already said that the Disney terms are “undeliverable” unless other clients take the strain. He termed this “tentpole” marketing on the part of competing agencies, promising anything to win a big account that gets them in the headlines and then scrambling around to make the numbers add up – somehow.

Happens all the time of course, especially with retail accounts. Media agency A promises ridiculously low prices but the small print says they’re only deliverable if all the ads come in early to win early payment discounts from media owners. Which, of course, they don’t.

None of this does Disney much good in PR terms or the winning agency and its owner, who will have to fend off accusations that they’re handling the business at cost or less – and penalising their other clients to do so. But there’ll be more work for consultants, auditors and lawyers, so that’s OK.

But $1bn is a lot of money and Disney is joining the streaming game, about to be lot less profitable as new contenders emerge almost daily and the mighty Apple weighs in with cut price Apple+ for $4.99.

So someone will have to take a hit.

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