Has Ogilvy made the right choice?

I guess Paul Simons has a reputation and an ego, but in a world that lacks personalities his charm and self-publicity seemed like a natural fit with what Ogilvy needed (MW last week).

He would have loved being billed as deus ex machina but the truth is that he could only fulfil this goal if he got the support from those around and above him. Surrounding himself with acolytes and seemingly oblivious to the “public school” he had joined maybe didn’t do him any favours.

He’s a pretty savvy bloke and only pushes the envelope when he thinks he’s got all the cards in his hand, but I guess he didn’t think his corporate friends, who are renowned for blowing hot and cold, would call his bluff.

The size and scale of the Ogilvy challenge requires time and guts. I’m not convinced that Toby Hoare was given the time at Young & Rubicam, although the Rainey Kelly move in hindsight was a smart one.

Ogilvy is one of the legendary worldwide advertising brands and needed someone like Simons to re-engineer it to become more relevant and competitive in today’s world.

Oddly, for someone so smart, his not embracing a 360-degree culture (as reported) could have been his undoing. In a big agency group like Ogilvy, preaching truly integrated solutions is the mantra, which apart from the attendant revenue benefits is the right thing to do.

Simons will be fine and I’m sure Ogilvy will appoint the man or woman it deserves. It’s probably one of the most exciting jobs in the business so I hope it holds its nerve and is not afraid of importing talent from outside. Once bitten isn’t always twice shy.

Jonathan Clark

Co-Founder and chairman,

Clark McKay & Walpole,

London W1

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