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