If someone like Matt Seiler can be a Media Maven, then the world is truly changing."
This isn't sour grapes from a sarcastic competitor, nor is it glowing praise from a colleague. The quote is from Matt Seiler, who has a typically wry take on his lightning-quick ascendancy in the year he's been the president of PHD U.S. During that short time, PHD-the smaller of Omnicom Group's media networks-has become a legitimate player in the U.S., developing a compelling brand based around his communications planning-focused vision that's proved alluring to marketers.
Mr. Seiler, 43, joined the network last September, moving over from a corporate role at Omnicom, where his duties included oversight of the holding company's massive PepsiCo account. Since then, PHD has enjoyed a windfall of new business, picking up Jim Beam Brands, the National Hockey League, Nature's Best, Hibernia and Charles Schwab Corp., which consolidated its account there. PHD's only major loss was Porsche.
"Over the last six to nine months, PHD has become a real platform," says Daryl Simm, CEO of Omnicom Media Group. "It's a bona fide media network."
A strong PHD is important strategically for Omnicom, the largest holding company, because the massive OMD is left out of many reviews by a client roster loaded with major marketers. Omnicom has been trying to grow PHD since forming its U.S. presence in 2002, by assembling some niche media offerings-including Chrysler buying shop Pentamark-and importing the PHD brand from the U.K., where it is vaunted. That growth, however, had come at best in drips and drabs, at least before Mr. Seiler came along.
Behind the new accounts and PHD's rise as a viable brand in the marketplace are an account-team reorganization imagined by Mr. Seiler. At the new structure's core is the head agent, essentially account lead, who can dip into four different pools, the most important of which is a group of free agents that include account planners, research, branded entertainment as well as other Omnicom resources.
"It's given them the ability to bring in experts to solve our media planning challenges as they come up," says Chris Schembri, VP-media planning and partnerships for Discovery U.S. Networks, a client for seven years. "You're going to get the best and most recent thinking at any given moment. They now have an uncanny ability to see the big picture and prescribe the right media solutions for the challenge at hand. "
He adds: "Everyone had a fresh perspective that helped us drive innovative plans. All too often, agencies have a focus on particular media and not see the big picture."
"Throughout all my advertising years, I thought that media should be at the beginning of the conversation with the client, but it never is," says Mr. Seiler. "But media can be made very sexy and beautiful because media knows everything about the target audience."