Global Media Agency of the Year OMD Turned a Comeback Into a Formula for Repeatable Success

Major changes and innovations brought new business success and organic growth

Group picture OMD
(Clockwise from top): Florian Adamski, Chrissie Hanson, George Manas, Kristen Colonna, John Osborn, Scott Downs, Danielle Sporkin, Israel Mirsky, Monica Karo.
Shirley Yu for Adweek

After suffering a string of client losses in 2016 and 2017, OMD managed a remarkable turnaround in 2018, going from the bottom to the top of COMvergence’s new business rankings over the course of a year.

But OMD Worldwide CEO Florian Adamski still couldn’t sleep at night.

“After year one of our internal transformation, I was highly paranoid,” he says. “The question that kept me up at night was whether the success we had seen in 2018 and early 2019 wasn’t highly dependent on a few individuals in this organization.”

So OMD got to work breaking down silos and establishing centralized leadership teams, “creating a process and unified technology that would democratize knowledge and capabilities” to ensure that “more offices were capable of delivering the same type of service over and over again,” he explains.

The agency’s determination to not rest on its laurels led it to implement a formula for repeatable success based on its “Better decisions, faster” positioning, utilizing Omnicom’s data platform Omni via its OMD Design system while bringing its global momentum to the U.S. in full force and leading Omnicom Media Group’s largest global pitch of the year. OMD was once again the agency to beat in 2019, leading COMvergence’s new business rankings and earning it the distinction of Adweek’s 2020 Global Media Agency of the Year, its second consecutive such honor and sixth since 2010.

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Learning from failure

“The reality of new business is you’ve made a lot of promises and commitments, and in the modern-day media world, delivering those commitments is a tough thing,” says Adamski. “When [the agency’s leadership team] sat in early 2019 [at CES] in Vegas, we talked about how we could keep new business momentum and deliver on our promises.”

Client losses such as PetSmart and Signet, as well as feedback from current clients, made it clear the agency had to work more fluidly across the organization and deliver results faster for clients, particularly in the U.S.

“2018 and going into 2019, the most frustrating experience was [that it] took a long time until not only our organization internally believed but long-standing clients would actually truly see genuine change,” Adamski says.

Adds chief media officer George Manas, “The things that we were getting dinged on some of our losses were related to us not having a modern product. It felt very legacy,” something OMD diligently addressed in 2019.

OMD design 

Introduced in 2018, OMD Design, a process utilizing data platform Omni that OMD U.S. CEO John Osborn called a “unique differentiator,” fully came to life last year.

“OMD was the agency within Omnicom that maximized tapping into Omni,” Adamski says.

Adamski explains that as a “homegrown, self-created platform” Omni stands apart from the wave of data acquisitions across the industry. Omni grew out of Annalect, the data-driven strategy division Omnicom launched in 2010.

OMD executive director, global technology and emerging platforms Israel Mirsky explained that what sets Omni apart is the overlap between its connected ID graph on consumer preferences and its proprietary inventory graph, as well as its ability to swap in and out data sets from different partners.

“In an average year, we bring onboard 2,500 to 3,000 people into the organization. We needed something that would give them the ability to operate this impactful set of instruments,” he explains, calling OMD Design “dynamic and fully integrated to the capabilities that sit within Omni.”

OMD Design guides users through every stage of the insight and planning process, democratizing access to Omni’s potential across the network.

OMD CSO Chrissie Hanson explained that OMD Design was modeled around “radical collaboration” and empathy, with the agency aiming for a deeper understanding of consumer perspectives transcending narrow category definitions.

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