OMD Finds Its Research Guru

The nation’s biggest advertisers are asking media agencies to be their new consumer specialists —and are often launching big-budget reviews in the quest for strategic insight.

The challenge has brought communications planners to Starcom MediaVest Group, account planners to Universal McCann, creatives to PHD and other innovations. Now, OMD’s solution of choice is a research expert with plenty of client-side experience.

Michael Hess, 53, joined the Omnicom Group media agency in late August as director of global research and communications insight, filling a void left when Andrew Green moved to England last year. Hess has held positions as a global point-of-sale consultant to market-research firm TNS NFO, a product manager at Bristol-Myers and director of marketing research at Clorox.

“What Mike Hess represents,” said OMD worldwide CEO Joe Uva, “is a conscious decision to recognize that leading research requires a broader understanding of consumers. There are strong individuals with more traditional media backgrounds, but Mike brings a complimentary added value.”

Jim Nyce, vp of strategy and insights for PepsiCo Beverages & Foods, an OMD client, has known Hess professionally for years. “A lot of attention [recently] has been placed on improving the accountability of marketing investments. That’s been the focus of Mike’s career,” Nyce said. “The fact that OMD would hire Mike suggests that they are taking the return on investment side of media very seriously.”

Hess said his mission is to create “more direct links between consumer research and media research [and] combining existing proprietary OMD tools with advanced data mining and other tools to delve deep into consumer patterns.”