Opinion: The rulebook was thrown out the window
OMD Australia
2 February 2021

AdNews asked industry leaders their perspective on the year that was and the prospects for the road ahead. OMD Australia’s CEO, Aimee Buchanan, provides her perspective on the year that was and the need to reinvent and diversify in 2021.

My 2020 work year kicked off in February, when I returned to work from parental leave. I can clearly remember rushing around that first morning, internally grappling with how I was going to manage working with a four-month-old and a four-year-old at home! Fast-forward six weeks and my anticipated struggles were so far from my day-to-day reality. I was losing sleep, but the little ones were not to blame. The responsibility of all 500 OMDers was weighing heavily on my conscience. As the CEO, this is a big part of the job — you are ultimately responsible for people’s livelihoods. But now, front and centre, was the responsibility for people’s safety, health and wellbeing at a level I have never experienced.

This year the rulebook was thrown out the window. The plan we and our clients set out for 2020 was no longer relevant. We ripped it up and started again. In a time of such rapid change and uncertainty, you can either wait for clarity or create the clarity. Our teams leant into this and have worked tirelessly to build new plans, to innovate and to be creative in how we solve for the new challenges our clients are facing.

Where there have been challenges, there have been benefits as well. I have been blown away by the resilience, commitment and creativity of our people, our clients and our partners. I have spent more time at home than ever before, loving the sneaky cuddles with the baby during the day and battling my four-year-old from trying to take over my conference calls each afternoon.

When I look forward to 2021, there are many things I would love to leave behind. The endless plans and discussions on safety, hand sanitiser stations, desk spacing and whether people have one, two or three screens at home. Yet, there are many positive things I hope we can take forward. The way in which we have moved towards working as a borderless agency, with more sharing and open communication across the country, with people stepping in to help across markets, clients and teams. Continuing a world where we are not waiting on a brief, but taking the challenge and opportunity in front of us and responding without limitations, boundaries or barriers. As well as the transparency and vulnerability we have shared as a leadership team, not only with each other, but with the agency as a whole.

I expect 2021 to bring more challenges, with many businesses struggling to build back up in a post COVID-19 world. There will be businesses that struggle to find a place in that new world. There will also be the winners, those who reinvent, diversify and look for new distribution and communication mechanisms. That’s our true challenge as we head rapidly into 2021, to be ready or not.

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