In five years, Omnicom's OMD has been utterly transformed, from a basket case of a network that barely existed in various key markets to a global powerhouse that has grown to become the largest media network in the world.
This has been its best year to date. In 2005, it consolidated its number-one global position with more new-business wins, strengthened its Latin and North American presence and beat rivals in terms of awards and creativity.
The network evolved slowly during a tricky period towards the end of the 90s when the ad agency shareholders in the business (BBDO, TBWA and DDB) became convinced of the need to create a media specialist. Some regions were strengthened more quickly than others (Asia, for example) but the going was initially tough in the US and Europe.
Now, though, Recma projections suggest OMD's billings for 2005 will top $23 billion, equating to 6.8 per cent growth on the previous year and a 9.5 per cent market share - making it the world's biggest media network.
Much of 2005's strong growth can be attributed to a stable senior management team headed by the global chief executive, Joe Uva (bottom, middle). His regional chief executives - Mike Cooper in the Asia-Pacific region, Colin Gottlieb (bottom, left) in Europe, Page Thompson in the US and Mauricio Sabogal in Latin America - have all been in place for some time, bringing consistency to the decision-making process.
New-business highlights included several major European wins - Kia, Carlsberg and Sara Lee on a regional level, Vodafone in Germany and Roche in Italy.
OMD also pulled off the coup of snatching Peugeot Citroen from Media Planning Group in France.
OMD's North American and Latin American new-business performance was impressive. In North America, it won pitches for eBay, Bank of America, Wrigley, Hilton and the retailer Lowe's. In Latin America, it added BMW, Nokia and Beiersdorf across the region, and local new-business growth was especially strong in Mexico. In Asia-Pacific, the network continued to grow with the capture of the Olympus and Elizabeth Arden regional accounts, plus local wins such as Disneyland in Hong Kong and Amway in China.
On top of new-business success, OMD also enhanced its reputation as the world's most- awarded media network, coming top of The Gunn Report for Media rankings for the second year in a row. Its work, such as that for the detergent brand Clorox in Colombia and the telecoms company Heyah in Poland, triumphed at Cannes and its Chilean office was awarded heavily in South American award schemes. OMD was also the most-awarded network in the Asia-Pacific region, with work for clients such as Standard Chartered Bank.
In planning and research, OMD continued to resource its comms planning device, OMD Checkmate. The tool made great progress in the US, where it helped introduce channel planning for clients. OMD has also put money into serious research programmes, such as a global youth study with Yahoo!
that provided insights into youth usage of media and technology in the US and ten other markets. Other prominent research programmes included its UFO Study across Europe, Power Consumers in Asia and Branded Entertainment Studies in North America.
In terms of building the network, OMD introduced its Global Account Management programme to ensure consistency in client service across 12 global teams during 2005. It also established the OMD Worldwide Creativity Council to share best practice and act as a quality controller of the creative process.
Global coverage was already strong, but OMD opened offices in New Zealand and the Philippines. It also bolstered its senior management team in Europe with six chief executive hirings in various markets.
The network focused on people management across the year, introducing a programme called Human Capital Management to provide clear training and development programmes. In all four of its regions, this manifested itself in new training schemes, including an online training programme in Latin America and a strategy meeting in Malta for 150 European attendees, with the theme Good 2 Great.
This was the year in which OMD achieved a consistent, dynamic structure in place across all regions. The results of that structure are plain to see in terms of work produced for clients and its new-business record.
ZenithOptimedia pushed OMD close for the top award, primarily because of a vastly improved new-business record and a sense of greater cohesion across the network. Its European wins were particularly impressive this year, the highlight being the record-breaking L'Oreal account.
Other wins included JP Morgan in the US, Richemont in Europe and the US and Nestle in many global markets as part of a division of the business with MindShare. The network also made considerable investment across Asia-Pacific, especially in China, where it picked up new business including Schering Plough and Mitsubishi. It kept up its reputation for winning big awards, especially at Cannes, with some great work for HP.
Steve King, the global chief executive, also continued to build his team by appointing Nick Hiddleston as the network's global research director, Rupert McPetrie as the global buying director and Richard Skipper as the global tools developer.
MindShare, last year's Campaign Media Network of the Year, had a less spectacular 2005 - after all, it would have been hard to replicate the fireworks of 2004. As MindShare itself says, the focus in 2005 was on "successfully integrating our major wins from 2004 and continuing to delight our existing clients".
Nevertheless, the network won the global Motorola business and extended its relationship with Nestle. Cited by WPP as one of the main drivers in its overall growth, the network opened more offices in Asia and Latin America, reaching 91 offices in 65 markets.
MindShare benefits from a stable management team, led by the global chief executive, Dominic Proctor, which has remained largely unchanged since the network was launched in 1997. The creation of the Group M holding company, of which MindShare management will form a core part, should give it even more impetus during 2006.
Recent winner: MindShare (2004).
This article was first published on Campaign