OMD integrates its way to silver

Number of staff: 217
Number of offices: 3 (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver)
New business: AutoTrader, Canadian Olympic Committee

Whether it was executing projects such as Nissan's 2013 Altima launch with a 3D holographic water show, creating steaming OOH billboards to keep Quaker Oats Canada top of mind with moms, or helping McDonald's Canada take questions (and give answers) about its company from the web to the streets, 2012 was a year of firsts for OMD.

The agency takes Silver this year, returning to the Media Agency of the Year medal round for the first time since it took second place in 2009.

OMD's jump back onto the MAOY list comes just one year after Cathy Collier signed on as CEO of the agency's Canadian operations. One of the biggest changes she made was integrating the strategy teams for traditional and digital media.

"Our teams now develop strategy for all communications and media," she says. "We still have a really strong digital specialist group that leads the knowledge of where the consumer is, what the technical opportunities are and negotiates to get the best executions and collusions, but we have integrated that strategy group." Collier says the merge saved time and created more "single-minded strategies to line up against overall campaign metrics."

To keep up with digital trends like the rising use of real time bidding, along with fellow Omnicom Media Group-owned agencies PHD and Novus Media, OMD started using its parent group's tools more effectively in 2012, including the trading desk Accuen, global search marketing agency Resolution Media and data-driven marketing platform Annalect.

The agency made some significant hires, bringing on former TBWA\Toronto director of strategic planning Christine Maw as its managing director of strategic planning in the last six months.

"The addition of Maw has meant we are spending more time upstream, understanding the client's business challenges and the consumer, as well as brand and competitive insights," says Collier.

OMD hired Shane Cameron, former marketing VP at and Dell, as its managing director of digital and emerging media in the last half of 2011, which has increased what Collier says is "the largest digital group in Canada" at a media agency.

The agency also made significant changes to its Montreal office, rebranding it as Touché!OMD and hiring Nicolas Marin as the general manager. Collier says Marin, who was partner at independent media shop Escape M, was hired because of his analytics and media innovation knowledge. The agency was rebranded as a Touché! office so that Touché!PHD CEO Alain Desormiers could share his expertise with its OMD sister agency, whose employees now report to him.

"The rebranding of Touché!OMD has reinvigorated that [division] of the business," says Collier. "The team has a new leader [Desormiers] and a new way of looking at things. It has brought a change of direction to the Montreal office."

The agency took on two new clients in 2012, winning business for the Canadian Olympic Committee and AutoTrader.

This spring, OMD launched TV and digital spots targeted at a younger demographic for AutoTrader in a new project with creative by DDB. The aim of the campaign was to change consumer perception of the brand from a print product to a digital destination for used cars.

At the time the Olympic win was announced last spring, Derek Kent, CMO at the Committee, said OMD's work with large global brands including McDonald's and Visa made it a good fit for the Olympic account.

For the Olympics, work showing off Canada's athletes launched in May with a national 15-week multi-platform campaign around the tagline "Give Your Everything/Tout Donner" ahead of the 2012 London Summer Games. The campaign was featured on more than 800 OOH placements, garnering more than 600 million media impressions.

The aim of the campaign, which featured creative from OMG sister agency Proximity, was to create a personal connection between Canadians and the names and faces of the athletes representing them in London.

The focus on personal connections is also on the agenda for OMD next year. "The unique selling points going into 2013 will be how we have evolved the kind of people we have at the agency, as well as the focus on data," says Collier.