Sean Finnegan

U.S. Director OMD Digital

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Sean Finnegan remembers the days when it was OK to live in a digital silo.

"Back in the dot-com heyday, it was an art form for the digital group in the corner to keep anything innovative to itself and hold it hostage, " says Mr. Finnegan, U.S. director at OMD Digital. "Now, if you want to grow, you give it away to the rest of the agency."
Sean Finnegan, U.S. Director OMD Digital
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And giving it away is just what Mr. Finnegan is doing as he works to, as he puts it, "spread our competencies. Digital is the overlay to everything; it is not an add-on."

The 35-year-old is charged with infusing new-media know-how into the planning and buying units of one of the media world's biggest players. As such, he's working on developing new data products and working to integrate those emerging-channel capabilities.

Mr. Finnegan has oversight of one of the industry's most aggressive attempts to foster experimentation in channels that marketers are often more likely to read about in the business press than spend in. The OMD Next program pools spending on high-growth media from marketers like FedEx, Visa, McDonald's, J.C. Penney and others, which in turn get proprietary research on DVRs, video-on-demand, video games and mobile devices.

"We're ... getting insight into how to judge, plan, buy and optimize in all these channels that everyone seems to be talking about but not investing in," he says.

Mr. Finnegan, a Chicago native, joined BBDO out of college in the early 1990s. He moved to Tribal DDB in 2001 and a year later joined OMD. From there, he worked his way up from Midwest director of OMD Digital to his current national role, where he's in charge of about 150 digital experts across the country. Mr. Finnegan, who recently relocated to New York, was named a member of OMD's operating council this year.

OMD, which has been trying to shed its reputation as a buying-led agency, has made preparation for the digital world a priority, hiring a consultant early this year to help it figure out a blueprint for the next version of the agency, a plan Mr. Finnegan will help to execute.

"He has no boundaries," says Page Thompson, CEO of OMD North America. "He's always looking for new ideas and searching for a vision of what's next. And that's magic in this business."

"He's an industry leader," says Linda O'Dekirk, director of internet and direct marketing for United Airlines. "He brings a lot of insight for my business, and he's just one of those people who are at the forefront of what's new."

* Constantly works to make digital the "overlay, not the add-on"

* Peers agree he's "at forefront of what's new"
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