GLOBAL BRIEF: Creating sounder foundations for a media giant - Omnicom’s much-needed media overhaul was worth the wait, Claire Beale says

There was nothing particularly radical in the announcement last week that Omnicom is restructuring its media network, Optimum Media Direction.

There was nothing particularly radical in the announcement last

week that Omnicom is restructuring its media network, Optimum Media


What’s really interesting is that it took it so long to get its media

ducks in a row.

OMD made its global debut in 1996. Since then it has been through a

series of personnel and local branding issues which, until last week,

had served to undermine the potential of one of the world’s most

powerful media operations.

Finally its chief executive, Daryl Simm, has taken a firm line.

The new structure underlines OMD as the global media brand for Omnicom

agencies. But it also sees the launch of a second-string global media

network under the PhD banner.

The first part of the overhaul is fundamentally a matter of branding,

though one which has been some time coming. Part of the problem with

establishing a single media network out of the media operations of

several agency groupings is the inevitable internal politics. Creative

agencies have spent years undervaluing their media departments, but when

it became a commercial imperative to hive off those departments into

separately branded media companies, the creative agencies have found it

hard to let go.

For Omnicom this has meant a tricky juggling act to keep its BBDO, DDB

and TBWA creative networks on side with the creation of OMD while

ensuring that OMD has its own identity and, crucially, control of its

own destiny.

It’s not an act that Omnicom has performed perfectly and in many markets

there are still separate media operations aligned to the different

creative agencies.

But the restructure will pull those separate operations more firmly

under the OMD banner. In the UK, for example, BMP OMD, the DDB media

brand, becomes the core OMD agency, dropping the BMP tag with all its

heritage and baggage. Paul Taylor, BMP OMD’s chief executive, becomes

chief executive of OMD UK.

And the house of media that OMD built finally got its foundations last

week with the launch of OMD in the US, pooling programme research and

broadcast media buying into a new dollars 4.1 billion media powerhouse.

The network map finally gets its most important flag.

At the same time Omnicom is creating a new media network, albeit one for

whom the word network is a ludicrous overstatement. Headed by David

Pattison, the chief executive of New PHD in the UK, the new network is

being branded PhD and will also incorporate Advanswers and Creative

Media in the US and HYPN in Canada. Pattison will now have access to the

mighty Omnicom purse to fuel PhD’s expansion in key global markets.

PhD will not be the natural home for new-media accounts that come

through the Omnicom creative agencies, though it will continue to handle

such existing business in individual markets and will house conflicting


Essentially, though, it will be a truly independent media network, as

free as possible from creative agency politics. And for Omnicom, that

really is radical.

Headliner, p22.