Media Perspective: End of an era as OMD observes the break-up of the odd couple

Callaway, in a campaign by Manning Gottlieb OMD, is asking the Pringle-jumpered brigade to "help shape the future of golf". Nick Manning, the agency's founder, may have more time than most to contribute.

This week, he officially leaves OMD, where he was previously the group chief executive. He founded Manning Gottlieb Media in 1990 alongside Colin Gottlieb and took on the wider OMD group role three years ago.

Apparently, Manning, who after resigning last year agreed to stay on until April, hasn't been bending his back at the agency since Steve Williams took the chief executive role in January, leaving him more time to brush up on his handicap. Now his relationship with OMD has formally ended, he has the chance to hit the fairways even more regularly.

Knowing Manning, though, he probably won't. Beyond the odd round of golf and the frequent trips to France, Manning is expected to make a return to commercial activity.

In the meantime, it doesn't seem overly indulgent to recognise the achievement of Manning (and Gottlieb) in creating a successful independent agency before selling it to Omnicom. They might seem an odd couple - Gottlieb's passion and commitment occasionally teetering on all- out aggression, combined with Manning's more aloof, controlled style - but it was a partnership that worked.

There has been talk of a breakdown in the relationship after more than 20 years of working together, but this seems a little wide of the mark. Maybe there were the usual tensions in a relationship that changes over the years, especially given that Gottlieb ascended to the heights of running Omnicom Media Group across Europe, and becoming Manning's boss. But the two have been sighted in recent weeks enjoying each other's company over dinner at Claridge's.

Gottlieb has been a success in leading OMD across Europe, but Manning also deserves credit for creating a flourishing OMD business in the UK. He describes himself as an "architect" who is more fascinated with creating businesses than in running them, but it couldn't have been easy to go through the process of linking group companies such as OMD UK and MG OMD while retaining some semblance of difference. I've expressed doubts in the past that this strategy was spot on, yet the facts speak for themselves. OMD was the only top-five agency brand to grow its billings during 2006 (according to Nielsen Media Research).

With Williams at the helm, OMD looks to be in good health, and it will now be fascinating to see if Gottlieb can find somebody with the stature and the diplomatic skills to head Omnicom Media Group in the UK (a position into which both Williams and the PHD chief executive Morag Blazey will report). This isn't proving to be an easy task.