HEADLINER: Omnicom’s media architect lays foundation of OMD brand - Daryl Simm has worked to establish OMD in its main markets, Claire Beale says

Let’s be honest. This is really OMD’s second coming. The first was a puddle of confusion: a silly name, a letterhead, a man, a dog; a knee-jerk salve for the wound where a global network should have been.

Let’s be honest. This is really OMD’s second coming. The first was

a puddle of confusion: a silly name, a letterhead, a man, a dog; a

knee-jerk salve for the wound where a global network should have

been.



And let’s be honest, the second coming (Campaign, last week) is really a

foreplay, a mere brush of lips but with a promise of consummation.

Sometime.



Optimum Media Direction was launched as Omnicom’s global media brand

back in 1996. The media world was starting to pay lip-service to

globalisation, companies like Zenith were expanding with a vengeance -

including into the US - and as one of the world’s biggest communications

groups, Omnicom signed up and conceived OMD as its international media

operation, embracing media for the BBDO and DDB networks.



The UK was represented by a shell office manned by Tim Cox, nominally

working with BMP’s media department and New PHD. But in truth, the first

OMD was little more than a token gesture. How many times have you seen

OMD on a pan-European pitch-list? The ball had been set rolling with a

degree of vision which, though clouded, still put some competitors to

shame, but there was no real sense of direction and no firm leadership.

OMD was a brand name without a brand.



Then Bruce Crawford, Omnicom’s chairman, met Daryl Simm, the Procter &

Gamble wunderkind who had decided that reaching the top of the P&G media

tree was not going to be the apex of his career.



Simm had already made a name for himself in the wider world of

media.



At P&G, he had been responsible for a radical overhaul of the fmcg

giant’s media approach, snatching buying from the heart of the company

and consolidating it into Leo Burnett and TeleVest. The changes helped

dust down the entire US media scene and propel media further up clients’

and agencies’ agendas.



But having become P&G’s worldwide head of media at the age of 33, Simm

had begun to wonder ’what next?’. ’P&G was a fantastic experience,’ Simm

says, managing to smile while he talks - do US business schools teach

the art of talking with a grin? - while also seeming sincere. ’It gave

me a unique opportunity to understand the importance of media at a time

when media was becoming a global issue.’



Such singular and covetable credentials at a relatively tender age

suggest a status-hungry, ambitious and determined young man. If so, Simm

hides it well beneath a charming and affable manner. Ambitious, me? Not

really, he says, at least not in the thrusting, aggressive sense. He

can’t identify what exactly it is that drives him, ’a psychiatrist would

probably say an inferiority complex or something’, he laughs, admitting

’the day I take on a new job, I always want to have a clear idea of my

next step so that I know where to focus my energies’.



Leaving P&G, though, was ’the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. It

was a much easier decision to get married to have kids.’



From the other end of the media cheque, Simm admits he’s surprised that

only now are so many major clients taking their media requirements

seriously.



For agencies, though, this can only be good news, which is why OMD is

really beginning to take off. Simm has spent the past nine months

getting the operation fully functional in key markets. But the UK launch

last week is a vital addition.



Critics may say the UK is still being fudged. The three Omnicom brands -

BMP OMD, New PHD and Manning Gottlieb Media - will co-operate on

research and will share their international resources. It’s hardly a

pooling of the Omnicom might. Having said that, those same critics would

admit that Omnicom is in the very fortunate position of having three

fantastic brands, all of which stand tall on their own, unlike WPP, for

example, whose JWT media team and the Network were not really contenders

in their own right.



For Omnicom, there is nothing to be gained from merging its three UK

media agencies right now. Simm is very clear of the need to maintain the

saliency of the local brands which, after all, provide the equity for

the global proposition. But further co-operation on backroom resources -

and particularly television negotiations - seems a logical and

increasingly expedient move.



There is also the question of how well the three media agencies will

work together. BMP is carrying the OMD name, so are New PHD or MGM being

marginalised? New PHD’s commitment to OMD has historically been

muted.



Simm insists that Omnicom’s takeover of New PHD’s parent, Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO, removes the uncertainty.



Of course, the truth is that as long as there are benefits to be gained

for the three agencies and international business is allocated

equitably, OMD will work in the UK. It’s still a little confusing - and

still a little crude - but as a global network, OMD is finally taking

shape.



’We’ve laid the foundations,’ Simm says. ’Now we’re finishing the first

floor. I expect the structure will be up this year - a global media

brand that is without equal. Then we’ll start working on the bathroom

fixtures.’



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