Three Leaders’ Journeys From Adweek Media All Stars to Omnicom CEOs
OMD Worldwide
15 August 2022

Originally published on Adweek.

They’re bringing a cross-disciplinary approach to OMG and OMD.

OMG (Omnicom Media Group) NA CEO Ralph Pardo, OMD Worldwide CEO George Manas and OMD USA CEO Chrissie Hanson all have something in common. All were previously named Adweek Media All Stars before ascending to CEO roles, representing a coalescence of top agency talent at the highest org level.

All three are relatively new to their leadership roles. Manas took on his last fall, followed by Pardo this March and Hanson just last month. They each received Media All Star recognition, beginning with Pardo in 2018, Manas in 2021 and Hanson this May.

Each leaders’ skill set dovetails with major industry themes that defined the years of their accolades. In 2018, marketers wondered how to once again combine media and creative to better reach consumers. In 2021, the pandemic-induced marketing crisis forced planners to be quick decision makers. The “set it and forget it” mindset went out the window as performance, retail and ecommerce reigned supreme. This year, clients increasingly ask their media agencies for more—from retail media and social platform expertise to consultative services. 

Pardo’s cross-disciplinary background gives him an edge as the group’s leader, Manas’ performance background lends strength to a network previously known for its clout and Hanson’s deep expertise in attention research and the operating system Omni help OMD develop its offering. Now the leaders are infusing those learnings across the groups they lead. Each considers themself a practitioner, representing a new age of marketers with digital expertise and knowledge of so-called hands-on-keyboard work.

According to Pardo, clients value leaders’ ability to talk shop. “We all have the unique ability to be able to engage at depth in those conversations. And that’s a differentiator for us,” he said, adding he believes that quality will define future leadership.

Orchestrating convergence

Pardo succeeded former OMG CEO Scott Hagedorn earlier this year. He held president and CEO roles at the OMG agency Hearts & Science when Adweek recognized the strategic prowess he brought to Hearts’ newly-won $3 billion AT&T account.

Pardo staffed the business with technical media experts and with strategists who had an “ambidextrous skill set,” he told Adweek at the time.

The AT&T account prepared Pardo for convergence. It represented, he said, “what modern day convergence looks like across creativity, media and analytics—in service to insight.”

Pardo himself has a multifaceted skill set. While at OMD he led the Time Warner business, and later guided a team of media, creative, analytics and strategy experts across both Hearts & Science and Omnicom creative shop BBDO. The same attributes and focus on developing a more robust offering underlie his current priorities.

“A constant theme for me has been ambidexterity, and in 2018 that focal point was really around creative and media—thinking and bringing that together through a slightly different lens.”

Prioritizing performance

Adweek named Manas, a 2021 Adweek Media All Star, when he was then its chief media officer. Manas brought performance expertise to OMD that he gleaned from his prior role leading OMG’s performance marketing group, Resolution Media.

With expertise across digital, data and tech, Manas told Adweek that he is obsessed with delivering client outcomes with speed and agility. Those attributes are more important now than ever at this stage in the pandemic, when clients continue to face radical shifts in shopping behavior and, as a result, are reframing their ecommerce strategies.

Adweek recognized him last year for strengthening OMD’s focus on audiences as opposed to channels, and strengthening its performance offering overall. His efforts led OMD to focus on its ecommerce, data and technology offerings.

Augmenting the offering

Leaders must maintain the same level of passion for audience insights as they have for buying media, their proprietary products and ensuring those products work for big and small clients alike, Hanson told Adweek.

“The attention economy is probably a great proof point, and evidence of the noise that all consumers and brands are navigating,” she said.

Hanson’s deep understanding of the attention economy led to OMD’s new attention planning tool that is now embedded in Omni for planners’ use.

Multidimensional media leaders

Hanson believes next year’s Media All Stars will be those in the industry who align their path to purpose with talent cultivation.

As media agencies become multidimensional, they must compete with technology juggernauts and consultancies to attract and retain talent. According to Hanson, the media leaders who figure out how to do that well deserve the industry’s recognition.

Establishing a media agency as an attractive place to work would be a commendable achievement, she added.

As disciplines collide, leaders are connecting disparate silos with technology platforms capable of keeping global teams on the same page. And by hiring talent with consulting expertise, leaders alter the fabric of what it means to be a media practitioner.

Manas wants to work with Pardo and Hanson to realize the network’s goal of leaving the “media partner” moniker behind and becoming clients’ “business transformation partners.”

“We’re all increasingly having to absorb and manage just a widening aperture of stuff. The leaders of the future are the ones who are going to be most comfortable in doing that, but also able to tease out the signals in all the noise. It’s only getting noisier and noisier with all the fragmentation and change,” he said.


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