Annual: Media Network of the Year - OMD

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 December 2008 12:00AM

OMD streaked ahead of its rivals in 2008, pulling Nissan out from under Carat and adding Visa and Estee Lauder to its impressive list of clients.

OMD, Campaign's Media Network of the Year, enjoyed a turbo-charged 2008. The year was rounded off in style with the appointment of a new chief executive in the shape of Mainardo de Nardis and the capture of the £650 million Renault/Nissan business across the EMEA region.

However, it was OMD's consistent performance and general strong management, coupled with an impressive new-business record, that really caught the eye throughout the year.

In a relatively sparse year for multi-national new-business pitches, OMD excelled in the contests in which it took part. In addition to the Renault consolidation, which saw it wrench the estimated £400 million Renault business from Carat to sit alongside its Nissan account, OMD also landed the bulk of Visa's £265 million global business, adding the Latin American and non-EU European portion of the account to its existing Visa relationship in the US and Asia.

OMD also won the hotly contested Intel global pitch and the international Estee Lauder business. Significant regional wins included Lego across the Latin America region, GE in Asia-Pacific and Henkel in North America. In the US, it landed the $50 million media planning and buying business across the Levi's and Dockers clothing brands.

The network also moved to significantly strengthen its management line-up. In November, it finally filled the chief executive post which had been vacated by Joe Uva in March 2007. De Nardis, the former chief executive of Aegis Media, was appointed, allowing Daryl Simm, the chief executive of Omnicom Media Group, to focus on his wider group role.

However, Simm hadn't been idle during his time overseeing the network, working to significantly improve its leadership team and that of Omnicom Media Group, the unit that effectively steers OMD's progress. Simm oversaw the key US appointment of Alan Cohen as the US chief executive. He also orchestrated Barry Cupples' move from Central and Eastern Europe to become the chief executive of OMD Asia-Pacific, a key hiring as Cupples was replacing Mike Cooper, who had done so much to build the network in Asia but was taking on the new challenge of the chief executive of PHD Worldwide.

Europe, traditionally strong for OMD, continued to thrive under the first full year of the EMEA president, Nikki Mendonca, who replaced Simon Francis in 2007. Colin Gottlieb, the chief executive of Omnicom Media Group in the region, to whom Mendonca reports, continues to be a prized asset for the network and was personally involved in the Renault triumph.

In business performance terms, OMD clearly maintained its number one global agency network status based on billings (according to Recma) and, importantly, continued to stamp its creative heritage by heading The Gunn Report for Media for the fourth consecutive year while also being the most awarded media network at Cannes.

Importantly, 2008 was the year in which OMD grasped the digital nettle, albeit somewhat belatedly. The arrival of key digital directors, such as Damian Blackden, the president of digital in the EMEA region, was a sign that OMD was bringing digital expertise to its business. This was especially true in the area of search, where it made several important hirings, including Cristina Sagarduy as the managing director of search, EMEA.

OMD also implemented some practical measures in a bid to offer stronger international client service - this included the introduction of a global account management programme, headed by Kate Stephenson, and the launch of a global systems council, under the director Mike Hess, to drive tools across the network.

This investment in a strong network infrastructure, coupled with a continued strong focus on the quality of its work for its existing clients, ensured that OMD maintaining its compelling proposition. It also sharpened its focus in areas such as sports marketing and branded content, with branded content workshops for clients including McDonald's and Sony providing a focus on more cutting edge ideas.

With the arrival of de Nardis, a strong new-business performance and good regional operations all pulling in the same direction, 2008 sees OMD in good shape to face the undoubted rigours ahead in 2009. Fortunes might prove difficult, but OMD's management has done all it can to insulate its business, and its clients, from any negative external forces.

Mindshare It was an extraordinary 2008 for Mindshare, activating a restructure across its global network (97 offices in 67 countries). The aim behind the move was to become the lead business partner for its clients.

The architects of the reorganisation, the chief strategy officer, Nick Emery, and the global head of communications planning, Marco Rimini, see it as an attempt to bring the agency (which at ten years of age had become part of the establishment) back to its origins as a mould breaker.

The restructure meant a simplification of the Mindshare model, reducing the network's dozen or so specialist units to just four: Client Leadership; Business Planning; Invention (the creative hub) and The Exchange.

Cynics argue that the reorganisation may not amount to anything more than a slick exercise in PR, but it is hard to find an operation with a more cohesive global network. Also, Mindshare has aligned its money and its mouth regarding its new creative focus, bringing in Michaelides & Bednash and appointing the M&B founders George Michaelides and Graham Bednash to head up Invention globally.

Mindshare secured high-profile product placements for clients in 2008, including the new Ford Ka in the latest Bond film and Unilever in the television show Ugly Betty in China. The network's wins included Royal Caribbean globally, Walmart in Canada, Astra Zeneca in Argentina, Mazda in Germany and Conba in China.

In all, the network, under Dominic Proctor's masterful leadership, can teach others a few lessons in global unity.

Mediaedge:cia The network enjoyed a fruitful year, achieving 14 per cent growth and major network wins including Playtex and Novartis in the US, Orange in the UK, Henkel in Germany, Spain and Italy, Visa Europe and Alice/Hansenet in Germany.

MEC also made some key hirings including Aquilino Pena, formerly the managing director at Orange Spain's portal business, as the chief executive of Iberia, and Birgit Konrad as the chief executive of MEC Germany, joining from MediaCom, where she was the managing director. The network also appointed Rupert Leigh from Hard Rock Int as the European head of music partnerships.

Under the global chief executive, Charlie Courtier, the MEC network launched its specialist sport, entertainment and cause marketing businesses division, MEC Access, in Dubai, while in Austria the network acquired the media agency MediaX. MEC Access was then appointed by Sony Electronics to work across the Middle East on activating its involvement in football.

Recent winners: Carat (2007); Carat (2006); OMD (2005); Mindshare (2004)

OMD'S 2008

January: Captures the Visa account in the US, Asia-Pacific and Indian markets.

April: Wins Intel's $300 million media planning and buying business from Universal McCann. Also announces that it has hired Alan Cohen from Initiative as the chief executive of OMD US.

May: Estee Lauder consolidates its $400 million global media planning and buying account into OMD after a long pitch process.

October: Wins the consolidated £650 million Renault/Nissan business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, fending off Carat.

November: Appoints Mainardo de Nardis, the former chief executive of Aegis Media, as the worldwide chief executive. The acting chief executive Daryl Simm can now focus on his role as the chief executive of Omnicom Media Group.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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