How OMD won TV Planning Agency of the Year
3 March 2022

Originally published on Campaign.

The UK agency also won Best Use of Sponsorship and Young TV Planner of the Year at the Thinkbox TV Planning Awards, run in partnership with Campaign.

TV works. That’s why brand owners continue to invest in it. Even so, it takes the right expertise and skills, combined with passion and a certain pride, to get the most out of it – just the qualities that powered OMD UK to win Thinkbox’s inaugural TV Planning Agency of the Year in 2021.

Ask OMD chief executive Laura Fenton to define great TV planning and she’ll tell you: “the perfect blend of maths and magic” along with constant evolution.

“Clients will keep investing in TV as long as it works to drive positive return for their business,” she explains. “But to maintain effectiveness, especially in the current marketplace as viewing patterns change and inflation rises, we have to keep evolving our AV strategies.”

On the maths side of things, OMD UK has been long committed to building, optimising and evolving its world class tools and practices.

“We’ve invested for many years in our amazing Connections Planning team and the tools and technology that allow them to deliver market-leading work for our clients,” says Vicky Fox, OMD UK’s chief planning officer.

“We keep a keen eye on the detail of viewing patterns so that we can find new ways to do things – a great example of this is the unique data-driven partnership we’ve built with Sky to target light TV viewers. Or how we’re working with Planet V to build out community targeted audiences.”

And it’s about keeping an eye on both today and tomorrow, Fenton adds: “We have to keep evolving our AV strategies as viewing patterns change. One of the key reasons for our success is that we have such a keen eye on the details of behaviours and future developments.”

The craft of TV planning is strongest when the best tools are combined with the right mindset, however. Which is where the magic comes in.

“Yes, our job is planning and numbers and weird equations,” Fenton continues.

“But alongside the data and the detail, it is important to stay immersed in what else is going on – such as in popular culture and entertainment. And to know when a traditional ad spot isn’t going to cut it and when to move into content and partnerships to solve a client challenge.”

OMD UK also picked up Thinkbox’s 2021 Young TV Planner of the Year prize – awarded to Becky France, recently promoted from the agency’s associate director to Connections Planning business director – and Best Use of Sponsorship for Walkers.

And it’s not hard to see why.

The agency works with some of the biggest brands in TV. And prides itself on being the best place to be for anyone who takes the craft of media planning seriously  – AV planning especially. Which made entering for the inaugural TV Planning Agency of the Year prize in Thinkbox’s annual TV Planning Awards a bit of a no-brainer.

“We’ve been talking about the evolution of TV planning to clients forever – we know what drives their business outcomes,” says Fox. “That, along with our collaboration, thought leadership and creative planning approach meant we were more than confident in the story we had to tell. Plus, we had the results to back it up.”

So, how did the agency approach its entry? As well as giving a flavour of how the team works – and the results the agency delivers to its clients, of course – emphasising the importance of collaboration was key.

“Great TV planning doesn’t happen in a bubble at OMD UK – it’s about how we work closely with our channel and client partners,” adds head of media planning Rhian Feather. “If it’s important to our clients, it’s important to us.”

Also important was to convey the combined sense of pride in the work they do that’s felt by every member of the team. “As we said in the entry, ‘simply put – we are planning nerds and proud of it,” Fox reveals. “Pride is such an important theme here, it’s something that is genuinely at the heart of our planning work.”

Then there was the presentation. “We know award judging can be hard work, so we wanted to elevate our story by making it readable and enjoyable for the judges,” she adds. “We even designed it in landscape for easy reading – because optimising for screens is what we do!”

The value of winning the TV Planning Agency of the Year accolade is neatly summed up by the sentiments of Becky France, now the agency’s business director, Connections Planning, on her Young TV Planner of the Year win.

“Achieving this accolade has cemented my confidence in stepping up to the next level,” she says. “The credibility it brings has really helped me build relationships with senior leadership and has encouraged me to continue to push boundaries with clients’ work and within the agency.”

In short, it is both an endorsement of work well done and also a propellant to continue to advance and evolve. Which is why, while the team at OMD UK continue to celebrate their success, they are also looking ahead to the opportunities that will unfold next.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for our industry,” says Fenton.

“The accelerated change that we’ve seen over the last two years creates opportunities for brands to capitalise on new behaviours and new desires. And the speed of the change also demands that agencies continue to innovate and to find new ways of doing things – just what we love to do at OMD.”

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