Media Lifeline: PHD

The media network is finally going global, with Canadian, European and Asian launches.

1990: Jonathan Durden (pictured) and David Pattison, thrusting young joint media directors at WCRS, leave to set up a communications agency with the FCO media director, Nick Horswell. They realise their initials can be arranged in an order that will make them look educated.

1996: Abbott Mead Vickers acquires PHD for £5 million and merges it with its media department, overseen at this point by the AMV vice-chairman, Ken New, to form New PHD. The deal catapults the merged agency into the top five UK communications agencies, with billings of around £260 million.

2000: PHD is rocked when the most promising of its second-generation managers resign en masse - Jon Wilkins, John Harlow and Will Collin departing to set up Naked Communications. Over the following months, Ken New also departs, to head Postar, as does Nick Horswell, to set up a consultancy. The agency's distinctiveness is further eroded when it centralises all of its buying into one department.

2002: Pattison (pictured) departs the London office, relocating to New York to launch a six-office US operation for the agency. There is speculation PHD will now be developed as a worldwide network - but Omnicom seems reluctant to make the necessary investment.

2005: At long last, Omnicom bites the bullet and launches PHD on a global scale as a second media network, to support OMD. In addition to its presence in the UK, the US and Canada, it will now be rolled out across Europe and Asia. The plan is to move staff and resources across from existing OMD offices to start PHD operations where needed.

Fast forward ...

2006: Having acquired Aegis after a protracted struggle, Omnicom, seeing a natural fit if ever there was one, decides to merge Carat with PHD. Jonathan Durden agrees to stay on and work with his ex-colleague Jerry Buhlmann on the reconstruction of the UK agency. It will retain the name PHD but, thanks to a strange choice of typeface, the logo looks spookily like TMD.

Topics