Pioneering agency to open in ME

One of the best known names in media planning is on the way to the Middle East.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  October 9, 2005

One of the best known names in media planning is on the way to the Middle East. PHD will be based in Dubai and will be a sister agency to OMD. Both agencies are part of the vast Omnicom group and PHD is being rolled out across the globe as a second string agency to OMD. The creation of PHD locally will be overseen by Elie Khouri, OMD regional managing director. Speaking before details were finalised, he said there would be “two brands, two different cultures”. In a move that will help underline the agencies’ distinctiveness from each other, Khouri said the agency would be in a different Dubai Media City building to OMD and have an initial staff of 15. Following the announcement of the worldwide move, Khouri confirmed: “We are looking at the expansion of Omnicom Media Group’s offering in the region. You can expect some major announcements shortly.” Although no details have been made available, it seems inevitable that some of OMD’s clients will be asked to shift over to PHD and that staff will also move across. All of the major networks now have at least two major media agency offerings, as a means of overcoming client conflict issues when pitching for business. OMD recently claimed the crown as the media agency with the region’s largest billings. If some of its clients do move across to PHD, second place Starcom, part of the Publicis network, could move back into poll position. The move is part of a global rollout of PHD, which was founded in the UK and is also strong in the US. PHD Worldwide chief executive David Pattison — the P in PHD — is heading the operation from the agency’s London office. PHD was credited with being the first media agency to successfully evolve from efficient media buying into an organisation where the emphasis was on clever media planning, along with the ability to ask a premium of clients for it. Pattison said: “The planning needs to go in with everything we do, including the buying and negotiation. It’s not terribly difficult to put that part of the DNA into a company that you might inherit. You can put in a process that forces people to do that. “The harder part will be attitudes, to get people to think like PHD people. Whilst there are a few people within an organisation who get it, as you grow as a company you will need to recruit people who will think like PHD people. “But we’ve got to get the structures sorted out before we worry about the PHD DNA.” He predicted that it might even be 2006 before the agency was ready to launch. He said: “The Middle East and Asia will take a little longer because we have less infrastructure there.”

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