Omnicom Launches Mobile Consultancy at OMD

Airwave Unit to be Led by Former AT&T Mobile Strategist

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Omnicom Group's OMD is launching a mobile-marketing consultancy called Airwave in a bid to help clients map out long-term mobile strategies.

The announcement comes on the heels of CEO John Wren's promise that Omnicom would "continue to focus on expanding our digital capabilities" during the holding company's second-quarter earnings call.

OMD said Airwave -- sold to clients at an additional cost -- will develop mobile "attack plans" and provide counsel on client staffing, technology infrastructure, innovation and analytics as they relate to a client's mobile division. The unit will also manage planning and buying of mobile media.

Airwave will be run from Los Angeles by Joao Machado, previously a mobile strategy specialist at AT&T and former director of digital at WPP's Mindshare. Mr. Machado will report to Jon Haber, U.S. director of OMD's Ignition Factory.

Mr. Machado maintains mobile marketing is at an inflection point similar to the way the web was 10 years ago. "At this point, mobile is still somewhat of a leap of faith," Mr. Machado said. "We need to be both the launch pad and safety net for that leap."

Mr. Haber said the range of client needs in the mobile space is growing more diverse as clients look "for more help and guidance beyond just putting mobile on a media plan."

"We've heard our clients asking for a higher level of mobile insights that goes beyond this year's media plan and looks toward the next decades mobile possibilities," Mr. Haber said. "The group will be just as useful to a client's chief technology officer as it will be to the CMO."

Mr. Haber said Mr. Machado will be supported by existing mobile experts from Ignition Factory and people within OMD's digital group while the agency staffs Airwave. Mr. Haber said, ultimately, the group would scale regionally with mobile managers responsible for specific client businesses.

"We do have mobile experts in house and we have for some time," Mr. Haber said. "But we needed people whose sole responsibility is mobile, and not just from an idea standpoint but from a platform and media vehicle standpoint."

OMD has executed a number of high-profile and successful mobile campaigns in the past, including one in 2008 for the second-season premiere of the CW's "Gossip Girl" and the shakable iPhone ad in 2009 for Dockers. The "Gossip Girl" campaign helped the second-season premiere outperform season one's debut by 44%, and the Dockers effort won a number of awards and helped drive a 300% increase in chatter, according to Karen Riley-Grant, director of global consumer marketing at Dockers.

Airwave will first be offered to clients that have been asking for more advanced mobile consulting. OMD clients such as Clorox, PepsiCo, Monster.com, Dockers and Lowes are already using some advanced mobile-consulting services. "These clients have received consulting and intelligence from OMD," Mr. Haber said. "But mobile is its own gigantic media platform that requires a dedicated group to address that demand."

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