Omnicom Gives OMD a Grand Plan

LOS ANGELES — For two years, Omnicom’s OMD media network has played from behind in the U.S., while other media-agency networks snapped up media-only accounts and added new responsibilities. But with last week’s sweeping restructuring, OMD may not only match its rivals, but also might even trump them, using a novel approach to dealing with the giant media sellers.

Since its formal launch in the U.S. in 2000, OMD has been limited to broadcast buying for siblings DDB, TBWA and BBDO, whose leaders were locked in debate over the shop’s shape and function in the U.S.

The outcome of that debate: OMD will handle all media planning and buying for those shops, including print, out-of-home, direct response and interactive, as well as broadcast. OMD is also forming a multicultural marketing unit and launching OMD Connect to work with small and midsize shops on buying assignments.

The new-look OMD “preserves the best elements of our three sister agencies, as we create our own OMD culture,” said Joe Uva, who joined OMD as worldwide president and CEO in January from Turner Broadcasting Sales.

In one fell swoop, OMD has added all of the functions its rivals have been acquiring during the past two years. “They may be coming to the table late, but they’ll be a world-class competitor,” said an agency rival.

The new look includes OMD Concepts, which will develop proprietary content and a relationship management group “organized the way the media owners have organized themselves,” said Uva. Executives within the unit will be dedicated to specific conglomerates, including News Corp., AOL Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, and, eventually, Vivendi Universal.

“This will give media owners confidence to evaluate [multiplatform programs] as big ideas, not as discrete pieces of media,” said Uva.

OMD USA will be reorganized into hubs in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Monica Karo, chief media officer at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., will head the L.A. hub. Mike Drake, evp, U.S. media director for BBDO, will run New York. Chicago’s leader has not been named.

OMD managing partner Dan Rank will manage all TV and radio for the network. DDB media chief Page Thompson becomes OMD’s chief strategy officer. Uva said Steve Grubbs, who had been CEO of OMD USA, “will continue to play a very pivotal and senior role in Omnicom’s media operations.”

“Patience is a virtue,” said Daryl Simm, CEO of Omnicom Media Group. “Joe’s done a great job bringing our agency media leaders together as one team.”