Omnicom: We Have the Buffet Marketers Want

Group of Former Rapp Collins Firms to Specialize in One-to-One Marketing

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Marketers have spoken when it comes to agency offerings: They want smorgasbords, not prix fixes.

Which is why Omnicom Group, having already made great strides in netting integrated clients, has turned a loosely affiliated group of marketing-services firms that emerged from Rapp Collins into a unit that clients can treat as a veritable buffet, piling a heap of website architecture next to a main course of CRM, with a little six-sigma or call-center expertise on the side.

Star Marketing Services Group, formed earlier this year, comprises direct marketer Javelin, interactive agency Critical Mass, and OMD Digital and Direct as well as four smaller specialty shops. Its structure is that of a mini-holding company of units that range in headcount from 10 to 400, all operating in or around the boiling-hot world of one-to-one marketing.

"These units are fierce in their independence and so Star is sort of virtual in that way and, at this point, it's not a go-to-market brand," said Ed McNally, Star's president-CEO. "It's a central entity that has all the benefits of aggregating, in terms of purchasing talent and being on common platforms and processes. They get better systems together than if [the] eight acted on their own."

whole package

The initiative has been spearheaded by Mr. McNally, a Rapp Collins veteran who reports to Tom Harrison, chairman-CEO of Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services. "It's like a mini-DAS," said Mr. Harrison. "The fierce competitiveness when they need to compete, the collaboration when they need to collaborate-all that is what we envision within DAS and even Omnicom."

As ROI-pressured marketers grow ever more enamored with marketing programs whose results can be measured, the agency landscape is seeing both small tinkering with organizational charts and seismic shifts.

"There's a genuine shift to nontraditional disciplines, and many of the shops that do that work are small and scattered in bits and pieces throughout the holding companies," said Arthur Anderson, principal and co-founder of consultancy Morgan Anderson. "What [the creation of Star] does is make the talent in those companies more readily available to clients and each other."

One of the ideas behind Star is to give the group a single management team and support structures that will help the agencies sell each other. "We need an umbrella group to direct management attention and make us more aware of each others' skills," said Greg Banks, president of Javelin. "The world's demanding more integration-and that's a bona fide, granddaddy trend."
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