WPP’s MindShare had been favourite to win the business after BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch ordered a review away from incumbent Universal McCann.
Not only did Sir Martin’s Sorrell’s WPP Group already hold the creative account for the vast majority of Sky’s operations, with HHCL/Red Cell, but MindShare chief executive Kelly Clark has links with Murdoch Jnr, dating back to their time in Asia.
Clark was head of MindShare Asia Pacific before coming to the UK, while Murdoch ran the Hong Kong-based Star TV empire before controversially landing the top job at Sky.
One senior industry figure said: “It’s a great upset that MediaCom has won the account.
Everyone thought it was a dead cert to go to MindShare.”
Universal McCann had held the account for seven years but decided not to repitch when the review was called.
Sky yesterday said it was in “exclusive negotiations” with MediaCom but refused to confirm the win.
MediaCom, which also beat Carat to the Sky account, declined to comment.
There has been speculation in the market that Sir Martin is keen to win more business from Rupert Murdoch’s empire, although News International has denied speculation that its account, held by Carat, is coming up for review.
Sky is planning a major marketing blitz this year, on the back of falling take-up rates in its subscribers and the account is one of the biggest wins in recent months.
Meanwhile, the battle for some of the biggest agency pitches in history rages on.
The fight for the $1.2bn Unilever pan-European account, is expected to drag on for another two months.
A decision on Nestlé’s $1.5bn global media planning and buying account is expected in a few weeks.