This article was originally published by Adweek.

Ask just about any agency what its greatest asset is, and the answer, invariably, will be its people. That was never truer than in 2020, when clients faced critical questions about how best to reach consumers, or even fundamentally reinvent their business, while reacting to the pandemic.

These marketers leaned on agency partners for support, and media agencies played a particularly important role. In the early days of the pandemic, that meant a rush to pursue or cancel planned media buys. In the months that followed, these agencies steered clients through the crisis with timely information on how consumers were reacting across different regions and verticals and helped reimagine ecommerce capabilities and consumer relationships.

Agencies introduced new tools and practices in 2020 that will be vital going forward. In the process, talent rose to the occasion, working tirelessly to deliver results for clients even as agencies faced crises of their own. Some stars shined particularly bright, and Adweek is proud to recognize these talented individuals as our 2021 Media All-Stars

George Manas U.S. president, chief media officer, OMD

Sometimes the change you plan for prepares you for what you can’t see coming. Manas joined OMD as chief media officer in 2019 after leading Omnicom Media Group performance arm Resolution Media. He quickly got to work leading the integration of more than 440 performance marketing and data science resources into OMD.

As a result, the agency was able to evolve its planning process to center on audiences rather than media channels while giving clients greater access to performance capabilities, Manas says. That transformation set the agency up to help clients deal with disruption, allowed OMD to double down on ecommerce solutions and led to opportunities in data and mar-tech consulting—OMD’s fastest-growing product, according to Manas.

Since last June, Manas’ approach helped drive $800 million in new business from clients including Clorox, Home Depot and Georgia-Pacific. Clorox chief marketing and strategy officer Stacey Grier says Manas played an important role in the company’s decision to consolidate media with OMD last year. “George has advanced how we approach media and helped redefine what a modern agency should be,” Grier says. —Erik Oster

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