Trying to picture Ian Lomas as a diplomat for OMD Europe, carefully
treading around other countries' trading departments as he tries to
instill best practice and a more cohesive trading environment, may make
the minds of the TV trading world boggle. For Lomas, the new head of
client operations for OMD Europe, who until now has been the head of TV
and a managing partner of OMD UK, is renowned for his tough talking and
uncompromising stance when he goes for what he wants.
Built like the proverbial brick shithouse and prone to talking about his
new venture in military terms, you wonder how a European country trading
head will view Lomas. He is the first 'category champion' that OMD
Europe's chief executive, Colin Gottlieb, has installed and is part of a
major restructure aimed at resurrecting OMD as a powerful European
network with a cohesive body of countries working behind it, rather than
the disparate mass it has been so far.
'The individual armies are doing great jobs,' Lomas explains. 'But it's
only good when we're working as a team. It's our total target to provide
every local chief executive with a direct benefit to our business. What
we have to do is to create new trading currencies - we have to make sure
our clients benefit from everything we do.'
After a 14-year stint with OMD UK in its TV buying department, Lomas
feels that it's the right time to move on. He has recently been in talks
with MindShare's chief executive, Simon Rees, about taking on a senior
management role, but the allure of the European job dangled in front of
him by Gottlieb proved too much to resist. 'The timing is perfect and
it's exactly what I needed to do,' Lomas says . 'The enormity of the
task is one of the attractions. It's one of those areas where no one has
been before. It takes me out of my comfort zone.'
Although Lomas may be proselytising among OMD's European flock in
sharper trading practices, he is not likely to be completely absent from
the UK TV trading table when it comes to the trading season at the end
of the year. 'I still want to keep an involvement in there,' Lomas says.
He has, after all, been part of the TV landscape for over 20 years and
it is evidently an environment which he revels in.
Mick Desmond, the chief executive of Granada Enterprises, who has traded
with Lomas for more than 20 years, says of him: 'He can be charming, or
a complete rottweiler. He's a very good negotiator and that's why OMD UK
has always been rated as being among the best buying points.' Paul
Taylor, the chief executive of OMD UK, who first worked with Lomas at
Benton & Bowles in the 80s, says: 'He's not an easy man to deal with and
he's got his own views and opinions, but he engenders support because he
doesn't let people down. He's innovative in his attitude and approach
towards solving commercial issues, and it will be that innovation that
will allow him to develop his role at OMD Europe.'
There are some sceptics who find it difficult to picture Lomas in
conciliatory mode. One says: 'You can't help wondering how the European
countries will perceive him, and the idea of Lomas doing things in a
diplomatic fashion - well, the jury's out on that one.'
Lomas helped merge the TV trading departments for the various companies
merged into BMP DDB's media operation during the 90s, so he knows about
honing trading operations. 'I had to go in, understand what was
happening and give some degree of positive help and guidance. It was
quite a big builder of my character.'
Lomas has learned from his past not to turn opportunities down. His one
regret in life is not persisting with his dream of becoming a
professional footballer. He listened instead to his father and finished
his education before getting his first job as a TV buyer at Lintas. That
was after he had qualified as a Royal Marines PT instructor, which may
explain why Lomas favours military metaphors and a combative stance.
'We're not about to catch up,' Lomas declares about OMD Europe. 'We're
about to win. I don't like losing anything and I hate coming second.'