MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - Your network isn’t truly global unless your culture is too

It’s all very well sitting in London (the centre of the media buying world) and writing about the changes to the global media scene, but there’s nothing quite like a bit of hands-on experience.

It’s all very well sitting in London (the centre of the media

buying world) and writing about the changes to the global media scene,

but there’s nothing quite like a bit of hands-on experience.

I spent last week at Optimum Media Direction’s inaugural global

conference in Vancouver where I finally began to fully appreciate the

enormity of the task of turning the vision of an international media

network into a reality.

While the detail of the conference remains confidential, the diversity

of OMD’s component parts was tangible. Like every other communications

group stumbling towards global consistency, OMD is still a network of

offices with very different histories and cultures.

So, while media specialisation has been a fact of life for Omnicom in

the UK for several years, in the US it’s still a glint in chief

executive Daryl Simm’s eye. And while the operation in France is a joint

venture between three creative agencies, in Asia the in-house media

departments were so weak that launching OMD meant starting virtually

from scratch and without the agency politics.

In each of these local offices are media professionals with their own

ideas, aspirations and ways of working, who often have little in common

with their colleagues in other countries beyond a shared logo and an

increasing sense of the need for co-operation. And, of course, there are

still politics to overcome. In a market like the UK, with entrepreneurs

such as Pattison, Horswell and Durden and Manning and Gottlieb,

persuading such canny media businessmen to buy into the network and

adopt a global proposition will not be easy without tangible business


Despite such diversity, what was apparent in Vancouver was a willingness

to learn from each other’s experiences in order to build a global

operation that will ultimately protect the local interests. And whatever

the differences and politics of the individual OMD media players, at

least they share a common passion - media.

But just as OMD is beginning to take shape and find its own identity,

Omnicom must unequivocally commit to establishing a media network of

equal importance to its group structure as its creative businesses.

The fact that in some countries OMD is jointly owned by Omnicom’s

creative agencies - TBWA, BBDO and DDB - can only multiply the potential

for politics and self-interest. For now it’s probably a feasible way of

managing what is bound to be a difficult transition period between full

service and a dedicated media network. But such a structure is surely

not sustainable in the long term.

In the interim Omnicom will have to cut through the politics and ensure

that media is given every chance to maximise its potential, free from

the self-serving interests of TBWA, DDB and BBDO. Only then will OMD

truly be able to offer its sister creative agencies the best possible

media service.


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