Does the Outdoor Media Centre have a future?

The trade body is without a CEO and now one of its highest-profile members. Will it survive, Gurjit Degun asks.

The Outdoor Media Centre, the marketing body for outdoor media owners, has seen better days. Two weeks ago, JCDecaux, the UK’s biggest outdoor media owner, withdrew from the organisation, taking with it its funding and vast resources. The move comes as the OMC continues its hunt for a chief executive following the untimely exit of Mike Baker in October last year.

The sector had already taken the proactive step of hiring Mark Craze, the former chief executive of Havas Media Group UK, to carry out a strategic review of the body – now it looks more like a resuscitation job.

JCDecaux has kept its cards close to its chest, but one insider admits the company simply felt that it was putting more in than it was ever able to take out. JCDecaux has stressed that it is still willing to work on market-specific projects, such as the measurement body Route.  

It all begs the question: does the outdoor industry, already fast consolidating, really need a centralising body such as the OMC anyway?

This is an exciting time for the sector. The goal for outdoor to be a "10 per cent medium", in terms of its share of the national advertising market, has been achieved. Meanwhile, digital out-of-home represents one of the most dynamic areas in media.

One stakeholder admitted the OMC, to date, "has not delivered", but believes this is a good time for a shake-up.

Defying the doom-mongers, Stuart Taylor, the chief executive of Kinetic UK, insists that the OMC has a "bright future if it can secure the right leadership, funding and governance".

Naren Patel, the chairman of the OMC and chief executive of Primesight, remains confident that all of the other members are still committed. "The OMC is going to continue. Just because one member doesn’t want to be part of it doesn’t mean the organisation will cease to exist," he says. "[JCDecaux] might be a big player but they are only one voice; they only had one vote on matters.

"You have to look at organisations like Thinkbox and Newsworks – these are trade bodies that are doing great work and the rest of us believe that having a great trade body helps grow the medium."