As headaches go, Omnicom has had a pretty bad one for years called
OMD. But, last week, in a sparse conference room on the 6th floor of
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, OMD's new European chief executive laid out
his plans to senior managers for a cure.
Colin Gottlieb, having sold all his shares in Manning Gottlieb Media,
has taken on the newly created role and with it a brief to patch up
Omnicom's third media network before clients begin to lose confidence in
the company's manoeuvres.
Or, indeed, before the reality is brought home yet again by another
pitch that highlights the flaws in OMD as a global network.
Much of what Gottlieb says about reforming OMD sounds reasonable. He
wants to put together a more powerful centre and inseminate a single
culture across a reborn network. He wants to move the past out of
personality issues and flush out local interests.
None of this can happen too soon. Although formed in Europe in 1996, and
the proud owner of a number of local media gems, OMD remains little more
than a statement of ambition on a letterhead. It represents the media
interests of three standalone advertising networks - BBDO, DDB and TBWA
- patched into one brand. This is weird, considering that its parent is
the world's most admired agency network. But the fact is that every lost
opportunity - from Nike to Boots - reminds observers of OMD's flaws.
There are many in the market who think that, with Gottlieb driving for
change, OMD now has a better chance of making an impact than ever
before. But serious questions remain.
First, as the search for a worldwide chief executive continues, Gottlieb
reports to someone who has yet to be appointed. Second, there is a
European leader in place but little talent underneath him: where will
that talent come from? Third, will the new-look OMD be financed any
differently from the old version?
Gottlieb is a passionate advocate for the OMD brand, but will Omnicom,
this time, be the enabler for change? Time alone will tell.