The Rundown: A look at the changing of the guard at Omnicom Media Group’s North American leadership

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Just a few months after Florian Adamski took over global responsibility for Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the first ripples of change under him are starting to be felt. Scott Hagedorn, who ran OMG North America since 2019 and worked within a unit of Omnicom since 2004, has been replaced by Ralph Pardo, who most recently ran Hearts & Science, the agency Hagedorn founded in 2016.

Ralph Pardo

It’s unclear where Hagedorn is going — an OMG press release said he continues to be under contract there — but he is said to have asked to leave, and wasn’t pushed out, according to insiders at the agency group. He is said to have lobbied unsuccessfully to replace Daryl Simm when Simm was elevated last November to COO for parent company Omnicom — Adamski, who was CEO of OMD Worldwide, got the job instead.

Hagedorn announced his departure in a LinkedIn post quoting Led Zeppelin lyrics, but could not be reached for further comment. Neither Pardo nor Adamski was willing to comment and Pardo’s successor has not been named.

In a statement, Adamski said Pardo will be charged with “creating and deploying leading investment, activation, transformation, and research products and services that will be fully underpinned by Omni — Omnicom’s industry-leading open marketing operating system — to orchestrate better outcomes for marketers in a dramatically changing consumer marketplace.”

Hagedorn’s longtime tenure within Omnicom is notable for his efforts to beef up the holding company’s media-side data and analytics prowess, beating out many other agencies in the race to use deep-diving data and insights to better plan and execute media for clients. Although he started his Omnicom tenure at direct-marketing agency Rapp, where he was chief digital officer in the early 2000s, he moved over to OMD in 2006. He then became CEO of PHD in 2009. From then on, he honed the aforementioned data and analytics skills, such as: 

  • He launched and ran Annalect, the agency unit within OMG that now powers the Omni open operating system, from 2010-16. As Jay Pattisall, global agency analyst at Forrester notes, Annalect “is the CEO-maker of Omnicom Media Group” since Hagedorn and Erin Matts ascended the ranks through there. “It illustrates the emphasis OMG places on data sciences, technology and intelligence-fueled creativity as key elements to media management today,” said Pattisall.
  • From there, he launched and ran Hearts & Science, a data-driven buying and planning unit within OMG whose first clients included massive accounts such as P&G and AT&T at the time. Hagedorn helmed Hearts & Science from 2016-19, when he was elevated to his most recent post.

Pardo, himself a 14-year Omnicom veteran, was part of Hearts & Science’s launch team, and is credited with landing AT&T as its second big client. He took over as Hearts’ CEO in 2020 replacing Erin Matts who took a broader experience role within Omnicom. He “will bring both media and creative experience to [OMG] as he was responsible for both capabilities as global account lead for AT&T,” said Pattisall. “As content and context have merged back together, agencies will need executives that understand both creation and activation of advertising and marketing.”

Pardo got his agency start at WPP’s Mindshare, spending 10 years there before joining OMD in 2012. His main challenges include maintaining staffing levels in the face of The Great Resignation and to prevent other client losses (McDonald’s and Eli Lilly) while trying to add new clients on top of wins including Mercedes Benz, Philips and Chanel.

According to a press statement announcing his ascension to OMG, Pardo is credited with “expanding [Hearts & Science] into consultative and creative capabilities while reigniting the entrepreneurial culture that has served as a backbone of the agency.” 

In a statement, Pardo called his new role “another balancing act creating new solutions and services that solve for the disruptive forces of change that have become endemic to our industry, while nurturing and caring for the talent that is so integral to our group success and to valuable divergent thinking.”

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