Media: Headliner - Denekamp needs diplomacy to put his plans into practice/OMD’s new European chief has a job and a half to do, Eleanor Trickett explains

Let’s face it, most Campaign readers know that much has been said before about the problems facing Omnicom’s international media interest, Optimum Media Direction, so to harp on about it would be churlish. It would also be unfair to its new European chief operating officer, Johan Denekamp, the latest salvo in Omnicom’s bid to make its media offering as famous as its advertising agency portfolio.

Let’s face it, most Campaign readers know that much has been said

before about the problems facing Omnicom’s international media interest,

Optimum Media Direction, so to harp on about it would be churlish. It

would also be unfair to its new European chief operating officer, Johan

Denekamp, the latest salvo in Omnicom’s bid to make its media offering

as famous as its advertising agency portfolio.



On the other hand, that is the job with which the gregarious bean

counter, fresh from a year at Young &Rubicam’s Media Edge following six

years at CIA, has been charged. On his (diligently up-to-date) CV, he

says: ’I’ve been recruited to continue the development and accelerate

the establishment of the standalone media brand in Europe.’



OMD has been the victim of its own successful strategy. Its policy of

buying the best of breed in each market has furnished it with a plethora

of shining media agencies - not least Manning Gottlieb Media, New PHD

and BMP OMD in the UK. But the talent that makes up such alluring shops

are, traditionally, reluctant to have accountants fiddling with their

products. The local agencies have to be convinced that OMD can do more

for them than they can do for it.



But it’s not as if Denekamp is going to tell everyone how to run their

own agencies. He’s not a media man: he’s a Price Waterhouse-trained

number cruncher. He’s pulled off some audacious deals and blazed a

network-building trail before now, with nary a spot flogged, a schedule

planned or a ratecard desiccated - although through his time at CIA and

the Media Edge, he has learned a little about media.



Daryl Simm, OMD’s global chief executive, knew what he was doing when he

took Denekamp on. Tempting as it must have been to take on an

evangelistic luvvie to do the Omnicom World Tour 2000, Simm knew that

the last thing the local specialists wanted was to have an established

media man telling them how many beans made five. ’Moreover, if someone

had been promoted from, say, DDB, the other two networks would, perhaps,

feel that things were not going to run in their best interests,’

Denekamp says.



Working in close partnership with the European chairman, Viviane Prat,

Denekamp explains that his job is about ’making sure the infrastructure

is capable of breeding successes and new-business wins’. The first

week’s tour of duty - 17 countries in five days - has obviously

convinced him that the pair will work together, and he thinks her Gallic

charms are essential in promoting a network which is strongest in

France.



Denekamp is cagey about the plans for OMD in the UK, although this

market does figure towards the top of the OMD agenda. But, he says, in

all markets, the first thing he will be recommending is a simplification

of the structure, although he vigorously refutes idle speculation that

any of its agencies will merge.



Denekamp sees the UK market as a big hurdle to surmount if a lucid

network is to be established. ’It’s hard to see under the big brands

such as MGM, New PHD and BMP,’ he says. ’We need the OMD brand to be

stronger than that of the local agencies.’



The potential in the UK is obvious. These three big brands combined,

bill more than pounds 850 million, which is pounds 297 million more than

Zenith Media, the UK’s largest media agency. OMD has the UK sewn up, yet

has no obvious presence beyond the three letters tagged on to BMP’s

name.



’OMD is a bit light and needs more central resources. But it will be

branded consistently worldwide,’ Denekamp says, ending the will

they/won’t they debate.



He plans to have a unified brand identity, the letters OMD on everyone’s

business cards, a local board in each country, an aim to be European

agency of the year in 2001, and total co-operation from all of his

European media shops. Not an ambitious man, then.



Paul Woolmington, the vice-chairman of the Media Edge and Denekamp’s

most recent ex-colleague, attests to his ambition: ’He has a rare

combination of financial acumen and business sense, and now a deep

appreciation of the media business.’ But he warns: ’It might be one of

those jobs in which he has all the responsibility with none of the

authority. He’ll have to be sensitive and diplomatic, getting people to

walk the line and collaborate more.’



Denekamp has a job and a half to do. ’He’s utterly likeable,’ an OMD

insider says, ’but hugely political. If he meddles around with

individual agencies’ microstructures, there’ll be trouble.’



THE DENEKAMP FILE

1980

Price Waterhouse, senior manager

1988

Bjorn Borg Design Group, group finance director

1989

TradeMark Management, European group chief operating officer

1992

CIA Group, European group chief operating officer

1998

The Media Edge, general manager/chief financial officer

2000

Optimum Media Direction Europe, chief operating officer



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