EDITORIAL: Omnicom moves to give OMD credibility

As headaches go, Omnicom has had a pretty bad one for years called OMD. But, last week, in a sparse conference room on the 6th floor of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, OMD's new European chief executive laid out his plans to senior managers for a cure.

As headaches go, Omnicom has had a pretty bad one for years called OMD. But, last week, in a sparse conference room on the 6th floor of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, OMD's new European chief executive laid out his plans to senior managers for a cure.

Colin Gottlieb, having sold all his shares in Manning Gottlieb Media, has taken on the newly created role and with it a brief to patch up Omnicom's third media network before clients begin to lose confidence in the company's manoeuvres.

Or, indeed, before the reality is brought home yet again by another pitch that highlights the flaws in OMD as a global network.

Much of what Gottlieb says about reforming OMD sounds reasonable. He wants to put together a more powerful centre and inseminate a single culture across a reborn network. He wants to move the past out of personality issues and flush out local interests.

None of this can happen too soon. Although formed in Europe in 1996, and the proud owner of a number of local media gems, OMD remains little more than a statement of ambition on a letterhead. It represents the media interests of three standalone advertising networks - BBDO, DDB and TBWA - patched into one brand. This is weird, considering that its parent is the world's most admired agency network. But the fact is that every lost opportunity - from Nike to Boots - reminds observers of OMD's flaws.

There are many in the market who think that, with Gottlieb driving for change, OMD now has a better chance of making an impact than ever before. But serious questions remain.

First, as the search for a worldwide chief executive continues, Gottlieb reports to someone who has yet to be appointed. Second, there is a European leader in place but little talent underneath him: where will that talent come from? Third, will the new-look OMD be financed any differently from the old version?

Gottlieb is a passionate advocate for the OMD brand, but will Omnicom, this time, be the enabler for change? Time alone will tell.



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