MEDIA HEADLINER: South London lad sets sights on the global stage with PhD - David Pattison has landed the job of leading the PhD network By Lisa Campbell.

The toilet walls at New PHD are covered in Campaign articles. It’s not that the agency is out of Andrex (as it claims), but that it likes to keep pride in its achievements out of sight. No-one lives out this philosophy more forcefully than the agency’s chief executive, David Pattison, who, despite being the ’P’ in New PHD, has a minimal presence in the ladies loos.

The toilet walls at New PHD are covered in Campaign articles. It’s

not that the agency is out of Andrex (as it claims), but that it likes

to keep pride in its achievements out of sight. No-one lives out this

philosophy more forcefully than the agency’s chief executive, David

Pattison, who, despite being the ’P’ in New PHD, has a minimal presence

in the ladies loos.



All this is set to change as Pattison is thrust into the media spotlight

as head of the new global media network, PhD. The initiative has been

taken by Omnicom Media Group, which wants to combine its independent

media planning and buying agencies into an international media

specialist network.



Meanwhile, its sister agency, BMP OMD, is rebranding as OMD UK. The aim

of the restructure is to strengthen OMD’s presence in markets where it

has independent media shops.



Pattison is not only nervous about the task ahead but about Campaign’s

interview. ’I’ve never done this before,’ he says sheepishly as I enter

his purple-walled offices. He immediately comes across as approachable

and unassuming, aided by his casual look - a sweatshirt - and his

barrow-boy accent. (He has never lived more than 11 miles from his home

patch of Camberwell, South London.)



It’s hard to believe that this is the ’amazing strategic brain’ I’d

heard so much about and the man who was tipped for the ITV chief

executive’s job.



But Pattison has a knack of making you feel at ease, which may explain

his reputation for being brilliant with clients. ’He’s self-effacing and

puts clients at ease because he’s a normal person rather than someone

from advertising,’ Mike Ironside, managing director of The Mail on

Sunday, says.



New PHD’s founding partner Jonathan Durden also refers to his

salt-of-the-earth nature. ’He’s very honest, which is why clients trust

him. He’s not undiplomatic but ’freshly blunt’. He’ll always give an

opinion, even if it’s not the one you want to hear,’ he says.



But Pattison refuses to take all the credit for the agency’s

success.



’We are a triumvirate and none of it would have been possible without

Jonathan and Nick.’



Durden, who was joint media director with Pattison at WCRS Mathews

Marcantonio, and Nick Horswell, who was media director at FCO, set up

PHD in 1990.



The agency scooped high-profile accounts such as The Guardian and

Midland Bank and quickly built a reputation as one of the most

innovative media operations around.



It was snapped up by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in 1996, when it became

New PHD. Since then it has built up its reputation as a media agency

with strong strategic planning credentials.



But the agency is now ready for the next stage of its development, which

is in the international arena. Omnicom’s global media network launches

on 1 April and incorporates Advanswers and Creative Media in the US,

HYPN in Canada and New PHD in the UK, under the banner of PhD.



Pattison’s task is to build and expand the network, initially in

Europe.



He says it is too early to say which companies he has his eye on, but

stresses that he will not be buying for the sake of it.



’We will take a different approach by finding the right people and

giving them the resources to establish new companies, whether they be

sponsorship businesses, a programming ideas business or a strategic

unit. We also hope it will be driven by clients - that we will build

businesses around their needs,’ he says.



What Pattison is keen to ensure is that New PHD retains its strong

identity and will not be subsumed by a big global network. ’The idea is

to use the skills of local companies and weld them together rather than

have a huge centre that tells everyone what to do.’



This may not be easy. OMD is renowned for its politics and the fact that

a single OMD brand was mooted suggests that some will not be happy with

the existing arrangement. There may also be in-fighting over which will

be the lead planning agency. But Pattison dismisses this: ’The network

has the full support of John Wren (Omnicom’s president and chief

executive) and he is committed to putting resources behind it.’



It will certainly be a challenge for Pattison and he has three years in

which to prove himself. He is confident, however, because of his good

fortune so far. ’I genuinely believe I have a guardian angel looking

after me,’ he says. It is this, he insists, combined with a love of

problem-solving rather than natural intelligence that explains his

success.





THE PATTISON FILE



1974: Masius Wynne-Williams & D’Arcy MacManus, TV buying assistant



1975: Doyle Dane Bernbach, TV buyer



1978: Grey Advertising, TV planner/buyer



1980: TBWA, head of TV buying



1983: John Ayling & Associates, media planner/buyer



1985: WCRS, joint media director



1990: Pattison Horswell Durden, managing partner New PHD, chief

executive



2000: PhD, chief executive.



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