OGILVY & Mather Worldwide Asia/Pacific (OMW-Asia/Pacific) has set up Hongkong's first specific media planning, buying and consulting service within an advertising agency. As well as planning and buying regional media centrally, the new division, Ogilvy Media Asia (OMA), will serve as a focal point for co-ordination with Ogilvy & Mather (O & M) media operations worldwide, particularly in O & M offices such as Europe, wheresimilar central media planning and buying capabilities already exist. Agency cynics have questioned how the network will split commission in cases where, for example, media placement for a Singapore client goes through Hongkong, but no one seems to doubt the sense of the idea. ''Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon,'' said Ms Sue Johns, regional media director of J. Walter Thompson (JWT). ''Centralised planning and buying is a high-profile area for agencies and clients,'' she said. At its worst, the centralising of regional planning and buying services is simply a way of making extra revenue - it takes money from regional budgets that the agencies would not normally get. O & M follows JWT, which centralises regional planning and buying for Nestle, Deutschebank, Lever Bros and other multinational clients; Lintas, which does all strategic planning and media schedules for its Edward Keller business; and McCann-Erickson, which handles all the buying for Coca-Cola worldwide. What OMA will do is provide clients throughout O & M's Asian network with planning, buying and consulting advice, from a central contact point in Hongkong. For example, if the best media thinking on American Express happened to be at O & M Malaysia, the central media operation would allow the transfer of that knowledge, and develop an understanding of how to invest in the same target in markets elsewhere. ''Media services are clearly a top priority for clients on a regional basis, and in domestic markets,'' said Mr Rod Wright, chairman of OMW-Asia/Pacific. ''OMA is for clients who buy media regionally, and for clients who buy locally, but have common audiences and brands to communicate,'' he said. ''Basically, we've elevated the media function to a board level position, to enhance our existing regional media services, and to facilitate our continuing development in this critical area.'' Mr Andre Nair, current executive media director of O & M Hongkong, will be the new managing director of OMA, and has also been named on the OMW-Asia/Pacific board of directors. OMA has several roles to play, apart from planning and buying regional media centrally. It will provide consultancy services to regional clients, who seek consistency and improved returns from their media budget within regional domestic markets. It will also serve as a ''centre of excellence'' for the development of all O & M's media capability throughout Asia, a point from which the agency can develop its resources and train staff in the appliance of media planning and buying technology. This will include establishing standards, providing direction, and boosting the agency's knowledge of the complex media environment in the region. In Europe, central planning and buying is advanced but it is still developing in Asia. But the emergence of media such as STAR TV raises the question of whether to advertise locally or regionally. ''There is a lot of competition between agencies with STAR because, say for example one is placing the client out of Hongkong, another out of India and another out of Taiwan, there is a lot of competition over who can get the best rates and deals,'' Ms Johns said. ''From a client point of view it is better to have one agency centralising planning and buying, and avoid this kind of confusion.'' Mr Wright said OMA gave the agency better facilities to satisfy its customers. ''We are simply responding to clients' increasing demands for a stronger common point of view about where to advertise in media,'' he said. ''Clients in Asia will start to look more closely at this over the next 18 months and OMA is an attempt to pre-empt what will become an agency trend in the region.''