This article was originally published by Campaign.
Omnicom Media Group agency PHD has appointed Mike Solomon as its COO in the United States.
Solomon, who joins Chief Client Officer Stacey DeRiso on the PHD leadership team, is the first executive hire under Catherine Sullivan, who was named CEO of the agency in the United States last week.
He joins from OMD USA, where he was most recently managing director. During his 16 years at the agency he worked on major clients, including a 12-year stint on McDonald’s, as well as Bacardi and Clorox. Solomon is also the co-lead of Omnicom Media Group’s Black Leadership Network, driving diversity and multicultural initiatives across the group.
Top of mind for Solomon in his new role will be leading PHD, its clients and employees through a time of tremendous change and ensuring the agency is set up for a post-COVID world.
“How do we move at the pace our clients are, and keep up with the demands and challenges in front of them?” he said.
A big part of that will be rethinking the products and data sources PHD relies on to plan and buy media. Agencies need to pivot toward data that’s fresher and quickly available to impact client decisions in real time as consumer behavior continues to change during the pandemic.
“In the last six months, consumer media behavior and activity has hit the reset button,” Solomon said. “The only constant right now is change.”
Solomon will also be responsible for operating the agency as its people continue working from home. But work on national clients like McDonald’s and Clorox has given him a good foundation of how to operate a remote team, he said.
“Those teams were always spread across the U.S. and forced us to use tools and ways of thinking that aren’t in close proximity,” he said.
Both Solomon and Sullivan plan to lean into the capabilities available through Omnicom to achieve success for PHD, specifically Omnicom’s audience planning and data platform, Omni. But the team also wants to hone in on PHD’s unique positioning around comms planning to differentiate from sister agencies in the group.
“PHD differentiates on its comms planning background and the strategic thinking that goes into how they analyze data,” Sullivan said. “That’s our secret sauce, powered by Omnicom.”
In the short term, Sullivan will measure his success in qualitative feedback from clients and PHD staff. Eventually, PHD will strive to grow not only its client roster, but also existing business with clients. The agency scored second in research firm COMvergence’s new business rankings in North America through June 2020.
“If we can show the incrementality we’ve driven for their business, that’s the longer-term conversation we want to have with our clients,” Sullivan said, “and that’s an arms race.”