Campaign India Team
Feb 23, 2010

"Make friends with procurement officers": Omnicom's Tim Love

When Tim Love took charge as CEO of Omnicom's regional headquarters this side of the Atlantic, one of the first things he did was to change the name of the region from 'Asia Pacific' to 'Asia Pacific India Middle East Africa' (APIMA).

When Tim Love took charge as CEO of Omnicom's regional headquarters this side of the Atlantic, one of the first things he did was to change the name of the region from 'Asia Pacific' to 'Asia Pacific India Middle East Africa' (APIMA).

"I think calling it Asia Pacific is kind of an old British colonial point-of-view. And I changed it because in India it matters so much, as part of the inter-connected global economy," he said, in a chat with Campaign India on the sidelines of the CII Brand Summit in Bangalore. "If you've lived through the development of China and India as I have, you don't really see it from London or New York. And its showing - there's been a very pronounced progression of marketing headquarters to Singapore by the big clients - Unilever, P&G, Johnson & Johnson."

Love shared his thoughts about the Unilever media review, accepting that Omnicom had been late entering markets such as India and parts of Asia. "The fact that OMD wouldn't have been equipped to handle the Unilever business is something that I call a 'good problem', which means we have to go out there and acquire talent. Having said that, in any big review, clients know that people cannot make a big shift like that and we're glad we were able to retain the business in China."

He added that it's clients alone who'd be responsible for upgrading manpower and resources within the group in India. "We were late in entering India because we didn't have a Unilever or P&G or Kimberley Clarke pushing us. But we're getting there. OMD has had a good run lately and Jasmin (Sohrabji) is doing a fantastic job, DDB Mudra has a diverse set of offerings and that's going to help us clients in as many different ways possible," he said.

On the subject of procurement, Love seemed supportive, but said it doesn't work when clients use procurement officers as a "bully club". "A lot of people in my business think that the procurement guys are there just to cut your wings. But my argument is that, if you help them do their craft better, they’ll appreciate you and actually help you," he said. "If you ask a painter to come over and paint your house, but only by rubbing the brush in a certain way, they’re not going to enjoy their craft. The same is true of procurement."

He further added, "I've been telling my folks to make friends with the procurement people, because they’ll help you change the client and help both sides be more efficient. I’m an art major and I know we’re not in the business of art."

He also commented on TBWA/Chiat/Day's appointment of Neal Grossman as chief compensation officer, a development he considers significant since its a position over and above the CFO, since its meant to lead contract negotiations with clients and procurement officers. "Neal is a good choice. It's really important that agencies match chemistries, intellect and interest with their clients. Knowing Neal like I do, he's got a very strong financial background. And his wife is a country-western singer; so they’re into more art than you can imagine."

In the coming months, Love said one could expect increased collaboration within the Omnicom network. "The biggest thing I'm working towards is making Omnicom more sensitive and collaborative. And while our goal is not to be big, we certainly need to leapfrog. However, to do that, I'd be corrupting myself if I begin thinking of acquisitions all the time. Successful economical entities will be those that can collaborate better."





Campaign India

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