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MEDIA MAVENS;OMNICOM, LOOKING FOR INTEGRITY AND CHARACTER, PICKS CREATIVE TEAM

By Published on .

Samuel L. Jackson. Fran Drescher. Bob Hanley. Rick Glosman. All these people have one thing in common: they became "overnight" sensations in their respective fields.

But like most overnight sensations, they had been working hard anonymously for years.

Messrs. Hanley and Glosman became immediate sensations in media-buying circles earlier this year when powerful Omnicom Group agreed to acquire their independent media buying service, Creative Media Inc., New York.

The acquisition was somewhat startling. Omnicom's rival, Interpublic Group of Cos., made headlines when it bought the nation's largest independent, Western International Media.

SFM THE EXPECTED TARGET

Conventional wisdom had it that Omnicom would go after the biggest player left: SFM Media, which dwarfs Creative in size. But Omnicom President-CEO Bruce Crawford wasn't looking for size.

"I was looking for a track record of character and integrity," says Mr. Crawford.

The choice was Creative because of two reasons, he adds: "Rick Glosman and Bob Hanley."

Omnicom made the initial offer in September. Messrs. Hanley and Glosman agreed to the deal in March.

"You have to understand, when we started Creative we both said we'd never work for anybody ever again," says Mr. Glosman. "We've been very independent. So it wasn't a decision we made lightly."

Their other reservation is that they were selling out too early.

"We'll certainly be a bigger company in five years," Mr. Hanley says. "So we had to decide if we wanted to wait and see if we'd get a better offer then."

But in the end the two men decided that if they turned Omnicom down now, Mr. Crawford would have gone elsewhere.

HOT FIELD COULD TURN COLD

Media indies are hot right now. They might not be in five years.

Messrs. Hanley and Glosman both worked for Bristol Myers Squibb, Ted Bates & Co., Benton & Bowles and Atari Corp. before starting Creative Media in 1984.

"We always wanted media to matter more than it did," says Mr. Hanley, who specializes in media planning.

"We discovered that we were good at being creative with media," says Mr. Glosman, who acts as a buyer.

Though Mr. Hanley is now president of Creative, and Mr. Glosman is chairman, both still love to plan and buy, respectively.

Omnicom came to know of Creative's work primarily through its relationship with Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

"From the very beginning they were more creative than other media people we spoke with," says Joanna Hughes Brach, director of marketing communications for Polaroid Corp., a Goodby client that's worked closely with Creative. "I was looking for creative cost effectiveness, not just for someone to deliver the lowest CPM, and Rick and Bob delivered."

Ms. Brach had particular praise for a campaign that branded Polaroid in certain network TV promos, and a World Wide Web project with Fox.

Another reason Omnicom was attracted to Creative was that, unlike a number of media independents, it's a full-disclosure shop, meaning they disclose all financial terms of their buys.

"That was very important to Bruce, that we were squeaky clean," says Mr. Hanley.

Not only will Creative Media take on chores for Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services group, it will be a good place to park potential conflicts.

IN HUNT FOR BELLSOUTH

For example, the shop participated in the recent shootout for BellSouth's $185 million media account. The creative is at Omnicom's Merkley Newman Harty, New York, and Omnicom's BBDO South bought the media for a while. But since BBDO is an AT&T Corp. shop, Creative was brought into the picture.

It's not a position Creative Media minds. "Agencies legitimized media independents by branding their media departments," says Mr. Hanley.

Although Creative Media didn't get the BellSouth business, an Omnicom shop media executive says, "Were we unhappy that Creative didn't get it? Very. But do we still think Creative was an excellent acquisition with many long-term benefits? Very much so."

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