MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - Wanted: someone with enough balls to rejuvenate OMD

It's a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity, complete with an attractive package including a significant annual incentive bonus and excellent benefits.

It's a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity, complete with an attractive package including a significant annual incentive bonus and excellent benefits.

Omnicom is looking for a 'top-shelf candidate' to run its global OMD network and is waving a handsome package as a carrot.

There are just three catches: TBWA, BBDO and DDB. The three agencies are shareholders in OMD and as such have played a significant role in making the media network what it is today - pitifully less than the sum of its parts.

OMD has global billings of around dollars 19 billion, more than 130 offices in more than 70 countries and some of the best talent (in Europe, at least) that money can buy (in fact, that Omnicom's money has bought). It has all the potential to wipe the floor with most rivals. But it hasn't. Five sorry years after its first inception, OMD is still struggling for focus and positioning; the three agency shareholders have let their media jewel tarnish.

Now the agencies have been given one last chance to sort the OMD mire out, and the appointment of a global CEO for the media network is meant to signal a fresh beginning. OMD is finally supposed to be given its head and the chance to fulfil its potential, free from the politics of the individual agency networks.

But the brief for the CEO role is awash with politics. The ideal candidate 'will not be concerned with 'territory' and 'ownership''; their job will involve 'developing and overseeing relationships with sister Omnicom companies' and 'building relationships with ... the owner agencies'. Diplomacy and statesmanship are clearly key attributes for this job - not surprising when OMD insiders frequently complain of the arrogance and ignorance of some of the individual agency chiefs when it comes to media. (Interestingly, Colin Gottlieb, the new head of OMD Europe, is a man known for many things - passion, business acumen, client handling, untold riches - but tact and finesse do not top his CV.)

Until the OMD CEO gets a direct reporting line into Omnicom's chairman, John Wren, running the media network will require deft political skills.

As the job spec says, OMD's global boss must be aggressive, intelligent and have the courage of conviction to leap into the fray. In short, Omnicom is looking for a media God. It will need one; OMD's three shareholders have done their best to ensure that the media network is a messy fudge that undermines the whole Omnicom proposition. And for that, BBDO, TBWA and DDB should be ashamed.

Or should they? Last week, City analysts cautioned that those communications groups with strong media networks buoying their financial base could be under threat if there's a downturn in adspend. But Omnicom, which has not had a strong media brand on which to rely, may be less affected if recession hits. Just as well if it's to pay the right sort of danger money to OMD's CEO.



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