The Sell: OMD's Big Day Out

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 15 May 2015

Usually, it's media owners touting their wares to agencies. Think of TV's Upfronts and YouTube's Brandcast. They need to make sure agency partners and media buyers are on top of their latest innovations, content, programming and platforms so they can sell it on to clients and garner a better share of the advertising budget.

But things are starting to go the other way as well, as agencies realise that in tough times, it's on them to make sure media owners know exactly who they have on the books, too. OMD is doing just this, with its Big Day Out event.

Media agencies presenting to partners is nothing new, but the scale that OMD hit is what stands out. It invited media owners from the likes of ARN, Ten Network Fairfax, Nine Network, MCN, APN, Seven Network, Nova and Southern Cross Austereo to a showcase event that pitched out nine of its biggest clients – and what the agency does for them. Previously held on a smaller scale in Melbourne last September, the event is something of a new venture for OMD.

From a miniature horse and VR experiences, to shooting Nerf guns and getting a sneak peek at the McDonald's Create Your Taste kiosks, OMD's Big Day out was an immersive event aimed at not only wooing its key partners, but firmly showcasing the media agency's intentions for 2015.

Perhaps it's a trend kickstarted by GroupM with its now annual mLab tech exhibition that brings together media owners and startups to demonstrate the innovations the market will be exposed to over the next year. For GroupM, mLab is a way to show its clients how close it is to the bleeding edge of tech innovation in Australia, and make sure its clients know what it is capable of. It also demonstrates to media owners the kind of high tech solutions GroupM is seeking for its clients.

On OMD's invitation AdNews headed to a small cul-de-sac in Sydney's Waterloo on the promise of a “journey of discovery”.
OMD Australia CEO Peter Horgan says the event was held to share insights into the priorities of its clients and to ensure its partners have a macro-view of the clients' objectives and plans.

“From a business point of view, we know that if we arm our media partners with as much information as possible, then we will get better responses to briefs, which is obviously better for our clients.”

OMD clients on show included Estée Lauder, Hasbro, McDonald's, Tabcorp, Telstra, Village Roadshow, Qantas, Thorn Group and Tourism Australia/Hello World – of those, six are clients of more than 10 years’ standing.

Intrigued media partners were split into groups and then chaperoned around the bespoke, themed brand areas. Each brand hub was headed up by OMD execs – from business and account directors to its trading managers, interactive directors and digital planners and buyers – who know each brand inside out. Media partners were taken through that client’s goals for 2015 and beyond.

The Tabcorp section, with multiscreens with live races and a miniature horse, saw staff re-enact scenes involving types of customers – from the pub-going lads getting their betting slips in ahead of weekend games, to the die-hard stat-chasing punters.

Rows of aeroplane seats recreated the Qantas experience, with OMD directors donning flight attendant uniforms, giving out drinks and snacks before briefing media partners on Qantas.

Sweets and Nerf guns completed the Hasbro corner, Samsung VR experiences were in the Telstra zone and attendees got to walk the red carpet at the Village Roadshow cinema area.
The idea is that OMD is focusing on partnerships between its brands and media owners – not just “spots and dots” and buying space. The recurring message was about working together and encouraging its partners, such as Fairfax and ARN, to come to them with ideas about how they could work with such clients, rather than just offering slots on schedules.

National agency sales director at Fairfax Media, Chris Freel, says he found the event useful in terms of getting a top line update of what OMD's key clients are trying to achieve.

“It was great to hear from the teams behind each brand and I was really impressed by their knowledge and passion,” he says.

“We aim to work as true partners with our agencies to drive the best results for clients, so OMD sharing its strategic direction allows us more time to work on proactive ideas to do this.”

He adds that while other agencies have knowledge-sharing sessions, he had not seen one in this format before and enjoyed the brands being brought to life in such an “engaging fashion”.

Aimee Buchanan, managing director of OMD Sydney, says the whole agency was involved in the event, which was the key intention – to get the people who work day in and out on these accounts to be front and centre. Even the IT team was involved.
Buchanan says OMD will look to do something of this scale once a year with the same purpose – to give partners a longerterm, immersive view of clients’ objectives and key priorities.

Horgan says the feedback from media partners was “overwhelming” and that they loved the concept and were really appreciative of the obvious effort that went into providing them with key insights into clients’ business. “Most pleasing for me was the glowing feedback we received around each team’s passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of their client,” he says.

“The outcome for our media partners is that it should help to make their jobs easier and, hopefully, more effective. We believe success can only be built on true collaboration, and that can only be made possible through strong information sharing with our media partners.”

He says the day was a great chance for media partners to get to know the individuals working on its clients. “It’s always easier to work and collaborate with people you know,” he says.

  • This article was first published in the May 15, 2015 edition of AdNews.
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