Omnicom signaled its commitment to that expansion last week when it appointed media-sales veteran Joe Uva as president-CEO of OMD. The hiring came after a yearlong search.
"OMD will be a full-service agency with buying, planning and research," said Omnicom CEO John Wren. "There will still be strategic planning at [Omnicom] agencies, but OMD will have a full complement of services."
The media operation will also more aggressively chase media-only reviews, broadening its mission. Up to now, OMD has primarily handled media buying for the existing client base of Omnicom agencies BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide and TBWA Worldwide.
Mr. Wren said he expects OMD under Mr. Uva to become an active participant in media-only reviews. "Joe is a spark plug who can walk into the corner offices" of client executives, Mr. Wren said. "He brings that aggressive dimension to the agency."
Mr. Uva, 46, was most recently president-sales and marketing at Turner Broadcasting Sales, a division of AOL Time Warner. He will lead the transformation of a media agency that handles some $18 billion in billings but has been more limited than other full-service media operations, and has kept a lower profile.
Media planning and research are deeply entrenched disciplines at Omnicom's core agencies. DDB, for example, has a strong media operation led by a high-profile executive, Worldwide Media Director Page Thompson. The agencies will continue to offer proprietary planning services, although many employees of those departments are expected to shift to OMD.
Allen Rosenshine, chairman-CEO of BBDO, and Keith Reinhard, chairman of DDB, have long resisted breaking off media planning and research from their agencies and turning those functions over to a separate media operation, even though that has been the dominant trend in the global media business.
"We have been talking about how to provide the planning for OMD, which has to come ultimately from agency resources," said Mr. Rosenshine. "Exactly how we do it will be announced by December."
Mr. Uva, who will join Omnicom on Jan. 1, will report to OMD's worldwide board of directors, which includes himself; Mr. Rosenshine; Ken Kaess, president-CEO of DDB; Jean Marie Dru, CEO of TBWA; and Daryl Simm, CEO of Omnicom Media Group, an umbrella company over Omnicom's media operations.
Mr. Simm will concentrate on non-OMD media assets within Omnicom, including Icon, a barter agency; Novis, a print buying and planning business; and PhD. PhD is currently pitching, with Omnicom sibling Arnell Group, for a $500 million consolidated Sony Corp media account. OMD handles media buying for Universal Pictures and MGM.
"The time has come to establish OMD in America as a full-service media company," said Mr. Simm. "Planning resources are an important and necessary part of it. Certainly one of Joe's roles is to it so finalize that full-service structure."