EDITORIAL: OMD long overdue for independence

Any chief executive asked by his parent company to lop off one of his lucrative divisions, a business he's invested in for years, and hand it to another part of the group empire could be forgiven for questioning the edict.

Any chief executive asked by his parent company to lop off one of his lucrative divisions, a business he's invested in for years, and hand it to another part of the group empire could be forgiven for questioning the edict.

For a start he'd worry about what it would mean for his figures next year. Will he meet his targets without the healthy profits the division has historically contributed? Will it affect his bonus? And will the division take with it business he's been fundamental in winning?

These are issues that have been addressed by most creative agencies as they've seen their media departments stripped out and established as standalone businesses. It's been a painful process for most, but in the age of media independence no media division can perform at its best, attract the top talent and build a long-term highly competitive operation if it is tethered to an advertising agency whose priority will always be creative work.

Omnicom, however, has been reluctant to force its creative agencies to relinquish control of their shared media brand, OMD. So what should be one of the strongest media networks is instead lacking direction and leadership.

With the appointment of Colin Gottlieb to head OMD Europe and the search in earnest for a global media chief, Omnicom must now prove that it is willing to give media its full status within the group.

A seat on the board for Gottlieb and the new CEO would just be the start. The chiefs of TBWA, BBDO and DDB must finally allow OMD to stand alone, with equal group standing to the creative agencies and with its own profit and loss. Otherwise, what could be their most lucrative asset might prove to be the one division that undermines the Omnicom share price.



Topics