There was nothing particularly radical in the announcement last
week that Omnicom is restructuring its media network, Optimum Media
What’s really interesting is that it took it so long to get its media
ducks in a row.
OMD made its global debut in 1996. Since then it has been through a
series of personnel and local branding issues which, until last week,
had served to undermine the potential of one of the world’s most
powerful media operations.
Finally its chief executive, Daryl Simm, has taken a firm line.
The new structure underlines OMD as the global media brand for Omnicom
agencies. But it also sees the launch of a second-string global media
network under the PhD banner.
The first part of the overhaul is fundamentally a matter of branding,
though one which has been some time coming. Part of the problem with
establishing a single media network out of the media operations of
several agency groupings is the inevitable internal politics. Creative
agencies have spent years undervaluing their media departments, but when
it became a commercial imperative to hive off those departments into
separately branded media companies, the creative agencies have found it
hard to let go.
For Omnicom this has meant a tricky juggling act to keep its BBDO, DDB
and TBWA creative networks on side with the creation of OMD while
ensuring that OMD has its own identity and, crucially, control of its
It’s not an act that Omnicom has performed perfectly and in many markets
there are still separate media operations aligned to the different
But the restructure will pull those separate operations more firmly
under the OMD banner. In the UK, for example, BMP OMD, the DDB media
brand, becomes the core OMD agency, dropping the BMP tag with all its
heritage and baggage. Paul Taylor, BMP OMD’s chief executive, becomes
chief executive of OMD UK.
And the house of media that OMD built finally got its foundations last
week with the launch of OMD in the US, pooling programme research and
broadcast media buying into a new dollars 4.1 billion media powerhouse.
The network map finally gets its most important flag.
At the same time Omnicom is creating a new media network, albeit one for
whom the word network is a ludicrous overstatement. Headed by David
Pattison, the chief executive of New PHD in the UK, the new network is
being branded PhD and will also incorporate Advanswers and Creative
Media in the US and HYPN in Canada. Pattison will now have access to the
mighty Omnicom purse to fuel PhD’s expansion in key global markets.
PhD will not be the natural home for new-media accounts that come
through the Omnicom creative agencies, though it will continue to handle
such existing business in individual markets and will house conflicting
Essentially, though, it will be a truly independent media network, as
free as possible from creative agency politics. And for Omnicom, that
really is radical.