Video game company Electronic Arts, while still handling a majority of its media duties in-house, has selected GroupM's m/Six as its global strategic external media agency partner following a review, people close to the matter told Ad Age.
Incumbent Publicis Groupe's Starcom, Omnicom Media Group's Hearts & Sciences and Havas also competed for the account, the people said, adding that Hearts & Sciences made it to the final round against m/Six.
Hearts & Sciences and m/Six declined to comment. Starcom deferred to the brand. EA and Havas did not respond to requests for comment. The people close to the review said the Redwood City, California-based marketer told everyone who was involved in the process not to talk to press.
In an earlier statement to Ad Age on the launch of the review, an EA spokeswoman said the marketer will continue handling all strategy, planning and digital—including search, social, programmatic and digital out-of-home—in-house. She said m/Six will handle linear, broadcast and out-of-home media.
EA's strategy follows an increasing trend among marketers ramping up their in-house capabilities while still working with external partners. In its earlier statement, EA described itself as a "vocal constituent of the 'in-housing' trend over the past 18 months" and that it recently consolidated its internal media disciplines across channels, regions and business units. But the marketer still sought a "strong external partner," according to the statement.
One anonymous person told Ad Age that EA has "a wealth of data" on its consumers which is why it handles most responsibilities around execution in-house. "Proper consulting at a high level" is what the marketer sought in its external agency, the person said.
According to estimates from consultancy R3, EA spends an estimated $80 million annually in global media.
The review was handled by media consultancy ID Comms.
EA, the developer and publisher of games like FIFA, Madden NFL and The Sims, saw its revenue decline 22 percent year-over-year to $1.2 billion in its recent fourth quarter reported earlier this month. The revenue decrease followed disappointing sales of its Battlefield V, the release of which was delayed, and Command and Conquer games.[from http://bit.ly/2VwvxLm]