Treading the trail blazed last month by WPP Group's decision to centralise its media buying operations into its newly formed GroupM [WAMN: 16-Apr-04], world number one advertising and marketing services group Omnicom has followed suit.

The move kicks off in the UK where three Omnicom-owned media shops -- OMD, Manning Gottlieb OMD and PHD Group -- will meld their media muscle (worth over £970 million ($1.74bn; €1.44bn) in 2003, according to Nielsen Media Research) to create the UK's largest ad buying centre.

Branded OPera, the new entity will negotiate across all media, except outdoor, and for all media agencies within the two shareholder groups, OMD and PHD. It will also provide research facilities.

Says Nick Manning, newly appointed chief executive of the OMD UK Group: "Our market continues to mature and the opportunity to be number one is not open to everyone."

"Our marriage of scale and intelligence will set a new standard in the industry, with knowledge and insight the key discriminators beyond price and equality," he modestly added.

Although no one is mentioning rollout, the UK venture if successful, will likely be seen as a template across the Omnicom empire.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff