Jon Wren

Holding Company Chiefs

'Flywheel Has Transformed Us': Omnicom Group CEO John Wren

Ahead of Cannes Lions, the Omnicom Group chief addressed a few of the potential trends that will be discussed at the festival of creativity this year

By Stephen Lepitak

We are just days away from yet another year of Cannes Lions taking place, where most of the world's advertising leadership will gather to discuss industry trends, review the output from the sector and discuss where things are going in the short term. In advance, we spoke with the holding company chiefs from the Big Six agency networks for their take on a few of the potential industry discussion points.

Here we speak with John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom Group

How have your creative agencies and departments evolved with the addition of Gen AI technology?

At Omnicom, we’ve always had a culture of innovation and creativity that lends itself nicely to experimenting with new technology like Gen AI. While we encourage our people to explore its benefits, we also are extremely mindful of its risks and have internal guardrails to make sure everything we do is ethical and safe.

I can offer quite a few examples of recent campaigns our agencies did using Gen AI... spanning a vast array of regions, agencies and client verticals – harnessing the power of Gen AI.

What are the main challenges marketers now face when it comes to measurement and how is business supporting them to overcome it?

We’ve been preparing for the end of third-party cookies for years. We knew first-party data would become significantly more important and central to a marketer’s strategy as third-party cookies phased out.

With that in mind, we were one of the first to tap into clean room technology and worked with the walled gardens to ensure first-party data was used in a privacy-first way. Our recent acquisition of Flywheel also gave us access to a significant amount of first-party data around transactions, which will allow us to help clients accurately target individuals at scale going forward.

What impact is the addition of Flywheel having on Omnicom’s offering already?  

Flywheel opens an entirely new market opportunity for us. It has transformed us from an advertising and marketing company to a marketing and sales company.

It’s been about half a year since the acquisition closed, and since that time, we’ve been working diligently to integrate Flywheel’s people and offerings into Omnicom. Today, the Flywheel team is fully engaged across several clients and actively involved in dozens of new business pitches. We have also fully integrated Flywheel Commerce Cloud into Omni, which means we have created the most comprehensive data set in the industry.

The addition of Flywheel is an enticing offering to clients because it helps them answer the question of ‘did I get value from my spend?’ With it embedded into Omni, we’re able to give them insight into the whole customer lifecycle, from awareness to consideration to purchase – making us a full funnel offering that outpaces the competition.

What impact had been made for the business from your people returning to the office albeit still not on a full time basis perhaps?

Our return-to-office strategy has been grounded in the belief that we are best when we can be together. There’s something to say about impromptu guidance, spontaneous meetings and in-person brainstorming. Sharing those personal and professional moments together breeds creativity and allows us to connect more effectively as a team.

Cannes Lions has introduced a Creator track this year but how challenging is it for agencies to partner with creators external to the business?

There’s no doubt our industry has already seen the growing impact influencers have on all points of the customer journey. Influencers and creators have become so prominent that we are treating them as their own legitimate media channel at Omnicom.

At CES this year, we announced a variety of partnerships with the likes of Amazon, Meta TikTok and YouTube to better measure creators, benchmark their presence on platforms and build them into Omni, our open operating system. Our goal is to continuously improve influencer discovery and measurement so that we can help our clients partner with creators who have the greatest influence on consumer purchase decisions.

Follow Creative Salon's Cannes Lions 2024 coverage through our dedicated content section.


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