OMD partners with Facebook across EMEA to launch e-learning initiative

As part of their regional development programme, OMD EMEA is joining forces with Facebook to launch a bespoke e-learning initiative. 

 OMD is the first agency to launch an initiative at such scale, placing an importance on inspiring teams as to how to fully leverage Facebook’s growing product portfolio to drive greater results for their clients. This initiative is part of OMD’s Pivot strategy across the region which is focused on moving the company from a reliance on purely ‘transactional media’ to delivering ‘marketing performance’ for their clients. To drive further product integration and usage OMD will select 45 participants from the programme who will become Blueprint Agency Ambassadors ensuring all new product opportunities are then cascaded through OMD in real time.

 The OMD Facebook Challenge is a custom learning path within Facebook Blueprint, offering three levels of product immersion. The twomonth competition kicks off in May for all 6,500 OMD employees from across EMEA. With over six hours of learning across three levels, the programme will accelerate OMD’s delivery of innovative solutions via the Facebook and Instagram platforms and drive further beta tests both regionally and locally.

The bespoke programme, developed by Paul Coleman, Chief Collaboration Officer, and Alice Monfort, Team Development Director at OMD EMEA, with Christian Kimberley-Bowen, Agency Development Lead EMEA, Facebook, is part of Nikki Mendonça’s digital integration drive across the region. Mendonça said: “As the Facebook opportunity continues to grow it is critically important that all our teams fully leverage their extensive product and platform portfolio. The offering is rapidly expanding from a social marketing opportunity to a mass immersive broadcast platform with mobile commerce now becoming a reality. This is truncating the so called purchase funnel quite dramatically with awareness to purchase happening in just 30 seconds. For some of our clients, fully optimising these platforms is becoming a mandatory marketing requirement”.

Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA, Facebook commented: “As the digital landscape evolves, so do we and it’s important we keep our agency partners up to speed on our products and services. OMD continue to be one of our strongest partners  and supporting the development of their EMEA agency talent is key to our partnership. We are excited to introduce the OMD Facebook Challenge at such scale within Facebook Blueprint and to launch the Blueprint Agency Ambassador program with OMD across the region”.

To find out more about The OMD Facebook Challenge please contact [email protected]

Inside OMD’s ‘digital pivot’ across EMEA

In an exclusive interview with M&M Global, OMD EMEA boss Nikki Mendonca lifts the lid on the agency’s digital ‘pivot’, and discusses the challenge of making science ‘sexy’ in media.

The agency model is being disrupted, that much the industry agrees. What is being robustly debated is how these businesses should be reshaped – and whether they have a future at all.

It will come as no surprise that OMD’s EMEA president Nikki Mendonca has absolute faith in the future of her agency. However, unlike many of her rivals, she is dialling up efforts to move from OMD’s media buying and selling roots and transform the business into a broader deliverer of ‘marketing performance’.

At the heart of this transformation is a five-point ‘pivot’ to ensure OMD’s operations across EMEA becomes fit for the digital and mobile marketing age, with everything from job titles to candidate interview techniques up for review.

“The strategy is all about moving from a focus on transacting media to a world of actually delivering marketing performance for clients”

Discussing the changes with M&M Global, Mendonca said the agency’s senior management realised some time ago that a serious shift in emphasis to digital channels and technologies was urgently required.

“In all of our conversations, we have landed on the fact that having a digital-first mind-set is having a consumer-first mind-set,” she says. “Digital and, more principally, mobile had utterly transformed the path to purchase. You can go from awareness to purchase in 30 seconds, and we really have to get to the bottom of that.”


Instigating a fundamental change of business model across 65 countries and 85 offices is not easy, of course.

To inform local and regional leaders that a new approach was on the way, OMD convened an initial meeting with CEOs in April 2015, before gathering again in December to go over the plans in greater detail. Each and every market will be expected to implement the new strategy over the course of 2016.

Mendonca sums up the message she passed on to her colleagues: “In a nutshell, the strategy is all about moving from a focus on transacting media – which has pretty much been our heartland, pure media at the best price – and moving to a world of actually delivering marketing performance for clients.”

Most agencies at the very least pay lip service to the idea of change, coining neat slogans and trade marketing campaigns to promote a reputation for innovation, but Mendonca insists this pivot represents more than just PR.

At a very fundamental level, agency staff will find their roles changed, including job titles and descriptions. Account directors are becoming business directors, with new KPIs based around delivering growth for clients. Digital specialists are moving closer to clients; TV and digital departments have been merged to form A/V teams.


OMD has also quadrupled its training budget across the EMEA region, with staff at all levels required to dedicate hours each week to enhancing and broadening their skillsets. Areas such as e-commerce and SEO are prioritised.

An initiative called ‘Raise Your Game’ deliberately looks to challenge employees to embrace the pivot by making themselves more useful in the agency’s digital future. Those with traditional media backgrounds are encouraged to develop specialisms in new areas, including mobile and programmatic – Alex Newman, the agency’s EMEA head of mobile and an M&M Global blogger, moved over from the TV department.

Some skills cannot be gained through extra training, however, and Mendonca says OMD is looking to “fish in new pools” to find the right individuals to accelerate the business transformation.

“Those geeks are almost the new gods in our business, they really are so important. It’s trying to make that science bit sexier at OMD”

“We’re going straight to business and tech schools to yank them out the moment they have earned their degrees,” she says, laughing. “To be honest, we have to hire in [data skills] – it is very difficult to train people with the vertical skill-sets you need to be a data analyst.”

The recruitment process is also changing, with candidates challenged to prove they possess the requisite problem-solving attributes – all in the name of making science “sexy” within the organisation, says Mendonca.

“We have maths and science tests for candidates, testing lateral thinking, and giving them puzzles to solve against the clock. We want to test how they are thinking,” she says.

“These small changes can have a big impact. Those geeks are almost the new gods in our business, they really are so important. It’s trying to make that science bit sexier at OMD. Sometimes geeks have a bad name, but we’re putting them front and centre in pitches and client presentations. They have a lynchpin role.”


It is no good for the agency to change its own operating model but allow client relationships to remain entrenched in the past. OMD pushes for ‘reboot sessions’, especially with clients operating silo-based internal systems, to encourage all parties to arrive at a new “customer-first” strategy.

With clients such as PSA Peugeot and McDonald’s, the agency is changing the way it uses data to go beyond media ideas, instead moving to the “next iteration” of adapting and fine-tuning content “on the fly” based on what real-time insights it can garner from the data.

OMD has adopted “sophisticated OOH planning” with Google, and is starting to explore the potential of programmatic TV with Liberty Global, all in an effort to future-proof its business and ensure the agency can retain a seat at the top table with clients.

It is all, Mendonca admits, a far cry from her early days in the agency world: “I was a TV planner and buyer, and I used to let a campaign run and then check in once it was done three or four weeks later. We don’t operate like that. We operate under an active investment strategy.

“We understand this new world is around the corner, so we’ve got to prepare, start testing, and get ready.”

View original M&M Global article by Alex Brownsell at http://mandmglobal.com/inside-omds-digital-pivot-across-emea/.

Ten years leading from the front

OMD was recently crowned the most creative global network by the Gunn Report for the 10th consecutive year. The Gunn Report is the industry’s official measure of creativity and innovation. In the last year OMD has had an outstanding run, being awarded over 340 accolades in EMEA alone, of which almost 20 were for Agency of the Year.

This prestigious achievement is not only reflective of our global community but a fabulous recognition of the dedication of our teams and the great work that is being carried out in this region. The inspiration and drive that produces this great work comes from collaboration with some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking clients in the world. We would like to thank our clients, media partners, and all our employees across the region who ensure we are always asking, always thinking and always doing – the benchmarks for success in any marketing performance company.

Over the next ten weeks we will be celebrating this mighty accolade to creativity by deep diving into some of our award winning work from the last year: from McDonald’s Top Chef and John Lewis Monty the Penguin, to Disney Star Wars Rebels Alliance and Talk to Google. Each week we will showcase the innovation and creativity that validates our position as the most awarded agency in the world. This week we will lift the bonnet on the hugely successful Channel 4 Humans, a phenomenal campaign by OMD UK, which made the theme of artificial intelligence exciting and relevant to mainstream audiences, convinced people synths were real, delivered 6.1 million viewers of the first episode and gave Channel 4 their highest rated originated drama of all time.

Nikki Mendonça
President, OMD EMEA

Meet Steve Blakeman, Managing Director – Global Accounts at OMD Europe

We recently caught up with OMD’s Steve Blakeman to delve a little deeper into his path to OMD, how he recently became LinkedIn’s Agency Publisher of the Year and the advice he has for anyone wanting to kick-start their publishing portfolio.

Could you explain your role at OMD and how you ended up doing what you do?

I’ve been back in the UK for around seven months now and I am Managing Director – Global Accounts, specifically holding responsibility for the global Renault Groupe account.

Prior to returning home, I lived and worked in Singapore where I was CEO for OMD APAC for four years.  This was a hugely exciting and successful period for OMD in which we doubled our billings, won over 1000 industry awards and were named ‘Media Agency of the Year’ at the Cannes Lions and Festival of Media Asia awards 2013. However London was calling and when our daughter won a scholarship at a stage school in the UK, after appearing in the world tour of ‘The Sound of Music’, we knew it was time to return home to the smoke.

Congratulations once again on being named LinkedIn’s Agency Publisher of the Year. How did you get started?

I’ve always been a keen writer and a regular contributor to industry trade publications, but it was Andy Goldman, Global Agency Lead for LinkedIn, who persuaded me to repurpose these articles on LinkedIn. Despite my original scepticism, I was overwhelmed with the response and viewing figures, particularly when one of my articles achieved over 140,000 views. Not only that but the audience went from being local, to regional, to global.  In December, I was named ‘Agency Publisher of the Year’ for EMEA and one of LinkedIn’s top 10 marketing and social writers for 2015. Now LinkedIn is always front of mind when I write.

For all our budding publishers out there, what advice do you have for them to get started?

Write about what you love, and what you’re interested in. If you’re not engaged in what you’re talking about, your readers won’t be either. However it is important to step out of your comfort zone, so read voraciously and be inspired by the exceptional content that is out there. The challenge is finding the time, however I travel a lot and still manage it by writing on planes and in airports, as well as constantly making notes and bookmarking websites on what interests me. The main thing is to get started, so if you’re looking for some inspiration, you might want to check out some really interesting articles by this Blakeman bloke who works for OMD.

What is it about the world of media and marketing that you find so exciting?

After almost 30 years in the industry, I can honestly say that the one aspect that attracted me to the industry in the first place, is the same reason why I still find it so exciting today. It’s dynamism. The relentless progress and constant change is what keeps the industry so vibrant and stimulating. Oh, and the media owner parties, of course.

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