People Profile: Dan Rank

Spend a few minutes speaking with OMD-USA managing partner Dan Rank and you will quickly realize that this is a grounded man. In an industry filled with guys who like to pontificate, Dan would much rather finish the interview so he can figure out a novel way to squeeze more dollars out of a network rep.

Outside the office you get some hints of who he is. You see a photo of the motorcycle he has been known to ride around suburban Connecticut is a BMW R1200 — known to bikers as dependable, but certainly not anything too edgy. Even his obsession with the Green Bay Packers has a Midwestern sensibility to it. Rank has purchased a burial site near Lambeau Field.

So with all that, you would expect him to be a solid ad man with a nose for results. That he is. But he is also an innovator who helped craft the biggest multi-platform deal in American advertising history.

In June, after negotiating for more than six months, OMD and Disney confirmed that they had struck a $1.2 billion deal that would give OMD spots on nearly all of Disney’s media products, including ABCTV network, Disney’s TV and radio stations, cable networks including A&E and Lifetime, print, and Internet sites. "It was a brainstorm after I looked at how much money we were spending," says Rank. He crunched the numbers across all of OMD’s divisions — BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, and TBWA Worldwide — and then considered whether they were leveraging all the dollars they were spending for such blue-chip clients as Pepsi, McDonald’s, Visa International, Nissan, and Frito-Lay. "Clout becomes very diluted when you’re going out and spending money on Family Channel, then ESPN, then O&Os, then the Internet, and never maximize the clout that you carry," says Rank.

It is that clout that pushed the pricing needle in OMD’s favor, which caused some resistance inside Disney, particularly among the cable networks. "When the entities didn’t want to do it, [Disney president] Bob Iger got involved and said they were going to do it because it was good for Disney, [telling them] it may not be good for you specifically, but it’s good for Disney." Of the $1.2 billion, roughly $400 million will go to the ABC Network, $250 million to the cable networks, and $100 million to the O&O TV stations, with the rest spread across Disney’s other properties. It will also give OMD about a quarter of all the network ad time during next January’s Super Bowl.

Rank says Disney was not the only company approached by OMD. "We talked to Viacom and AOL Time Warner. We’re still talking, and I don’t think that either one of those is dead long-term." That’s not to say that OMD won’t be able to convince Mel Karmazin to do a deal on such a scale sometime in the future. Rank believes it is where media buying is heading. "There’s no question that we’ll see more of it. You’re going to see more of it from OMD. I know that some of our competitors have already tried to do it since we did it."

One new twist in the OMD deal is its movement beyond a traditional ad buy. Rank says, "It does include some things beyond simply the exchange of GRPs for dollars. There are a lot of areas that we’re exploring, including program production, product placement, joints and promotional opportunities."

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