With 19 years of media experience under his belt, Jack Hemens took some time to speak to us about the evolution of media agencies and his secrets to long-term success.
Jack – thanks for your time today. You’re an OMD UK stalwart having been here eight years…having seen so much, what can you tell our readers about the changing world of media agencies? How has being in one place affected your relationships with clients?
Agencies are all about people and clients. Take those away and you’re left with some second-hand IT. OMD UK has always been about the people – more than some other shops around town – and there’s a buzz and vibrancy which is almost tangible.
Our job is the same as it’s ever been: to help our clients to sell more stuff. Only now, we have a much bigger and better toy box to play with, and more sophisticated tools. For instance, when I joined OMD UK, we didn’t have an SEO team. Now we have a technical team and OMD Create. Insight and DataScience now sit together and feed into our planning process (not simply providing a service to sell).
In terms of my own longevity here, I was at my previous agency for 11 years, so to me OMD still feels new! That’s in no small part to the fact that my role and remit has consistently evolved over the last eight years. I’ve learned and continue to learn so much that it always feels there is a fresh challenge and opportunity to throw myself at. With long service, I feel I know the people and the best ways to navigate through things, and I’ve got credit in the bank to ask for favours when I need them (it works both ways of course). It’s all about the people and that’s what makes working here so satisfying.
What’s the next big change you see coming?
It’s time to take a fresh look at our performance planning product, both online and offline. There are other agencies in town that have performance departments of 60-100 people but bigger doesn’t automatically mean better. We already do some brilliant, award-winning work (GoAhead, Eurotunnel, PSA), and we can always improve, but it’s not yet what OMD UK are “famous” for.
OMD UK’s heritage and strength is in creativity and brand planning. As I said, our underlying job remains the same as it has ever done – sell more stuff – so how can we join up all the planning through the purchase funnel so that we deliver brand and performance expertise in an integrated way? What client would NOT sign up to that vision?
How have you improved your working relationships with clients?
I’ve worked on three particular clients for six years – WeightWatchers, Eurotunnel and GoAhead. With WeightWatchers I have worked on their business longer than almost anyone in the current marketing team. For all three, longevity has allowed me to really get close to the commercials of their business and understand their critical, often non-marketing challenges.
Obviously in a six year period not everything’s going to be plain sailing, but as we’ve solved problems it’s helped to forge a stronger relationship. As of course, has celebrating our successes! It’s not just about the next campaign or deadline, they know that I’m personally committed to their success for the long term. The relationship means that OMD UK gets to act as a consultant, not just as a planning and buying agency, which means we can extend our remit and pioneer new thinking and products that benefit our clients. For example, we’re currently looking at optimising the user experience and check out funnel on the WeightWatchers website; for Eurotunnel, the OMD Create team write all their regular customer newsletters for eCRM. Longevity has helped forge a sense of partnership and shared aims with all three clients, while new challenges and opportunities keep things fresh.