OMD grows for Gold

Is bigger better? If you're looking at this year's Media Agency of the Year Gold winner OMD you wouldn't be faulted in thinking the answer is yes. The agency, which jumped a spot from last year's Silver finish, also held the largest market share in Canada in 2012 with 12.1%, and overall activity of $988 million, according to a RECMA study that was released in July.

The Publicis-owned agency that will become a piece of the mega-huge Publicis Omnicom Group when the deal closes in the next quarter has also seen its size go up within Canada in 2013.

The agency's Montreal office, which rebranded itself from Touché! to become Touché! OMD in 2012 to fall under the remit of Touché! PHD CEO Alain Desormiers, will have grown to three times its size between the time of the name change and the start of 2014, says Cathy Collier, CEO at OMD Canada.

New business the office has won since the name change includes Reitmans, Standard Life and Fifa's upcoming push in advance of the 2015 Fifa Women's World Cup.

"The momentum Touché! OMD has gathered has been great," she says. "Before the change they had a nice office and served clients well, but there was not the kind of growth and independent identity there is now."

A theme of change at the top leading to a renewed spark at the office continues at OMD in Vancouver, which is now being led by Jason Snider, who took over the spot as general manager earlier this year when long-time office leader Rick Sanderson went client-side following eight years in the role.

At both OMD's Toronto and Montreal offices, Collier says the agency has been changing within its walls over the past year as well, creating open office areas with break-out rooms for greater collaboration. She adds the only person with their own office in the agency is the CFO.

Overall, change at head office in Toronto has continued to come from the agency's digital offerings, which are led by managing director of digital Shane Cameron.

While business growth is rarely a negative thing, Collier says the fast pace at which digital has taken off means the supply of high quality, available staff in the field is not keeping up with demand. That's why she says OMD is taking the philosophy of hiring for attitude and helping to grow their skill sets where they are most needed, in digital overall as well as in more specific areas like data analysis.

"We are lucky to have Shane Cameron leading our group because he is extremely talented and I think people come to work with him. But growing good talent is going to be our philosophy across the agency because as the media world changes we are going to need different skills and to grow that from someone who is graduating from university or college is the right way to start," she says. "It isn't as immediate as hiring in, but I think it is a much better long-term solution."

It's clear talking to Collier that OMD has no plans to slow down its growth in the next year, looking to add people who can see storytelling across platforms rather than in silos, and also analysts who understand programmatic buying in both junior and senior roles.

All eyes will be on OMD's trajectory over the next year, and what impact the upcoming mega-merger might bring.