Ogilvy seeks rejuvenation in unitary team

Seven months after being appointed to rejuvenate the agency, Ogilvy UK group chairman Gary Leih has announced the unification of 11 companies under a single management team. The restructure will see a board made up of 16 group partners from the 11 agencies reporting to Leih.

Ogilvy & Mather, the WPP-owned advertising agency, and direct marketing division OgilvyOne will have a joint management and creative structure. In consequence, OgilvyOne Worldwide vice-chairman and creative supremo Rory Sutherland has been made vice-chairman of the integrated group. Paul Jackson becomes chief executive of O&M; and joint managing directors at OgilvyOne Mike Dodds and Guy Lambert are installed as group managing partners, acting as business heads across the two agencies, each with a portfolio of accounts to look after. The new structure has also opened a place for a media channel planning director, yet to be appointed.

Leih’s attempt to create a marketing communications operation to help clients find creative solutions to their business issues is nothing new. Neither is “holistic communications” as the mantra of integrated marketing. But what is being lauded is the fact that he is not only espousing the concept, but actually offering clients a shop window for both above- and below-the line disciplines.

One agency boss says: “This is a true marrying of the direct-response route to above-the-line creative services. Most agencies pay lip-service to the concept of integration, but if Leih has managed to set up a structure where the direct marketing and advertising people have shared responsibility, he seems quite determined to make the 360-degree approach to integration work.”

“It is not about matching luggage,” says Leih of the group’s new structure. “But with the vast scope and breadth of the talent and skills in the UK, it makes sense to have a joint management and creative team to further our strategic communications.”

Clients, however, will have the choice of working either with the separate agencies or the integrated entity. The restructure will not involve a rebranding of Ogilvy’s businesses. The direct marketing agency, design agency Coley Porter Bell and marketing communications specialist 141 will continue to operate as separate brands. For Leih, this integrated approach will also enable the agency to “pitch as an Ogilvy brand” for clients that seek a joined-up communications strategy.

Also moving in a similar direction is Omnicom’s Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO. Last month, the agency’s UK chairman Cilla Snowball was given the additional responsibility of chairman of Proximity, forging stronger links between the ad agency and the direct marketing shop. Snowball says: “As a group we have been both preaching and practising integration, and have always felt that it is important to put people behind the policies. My new role reflects that.”

It would, however, be wrong to say that specialism in advertising will be abandoned. She adds: “AMV as a group would like to demonstrate that we can deliver creative solutions in all disciplines, with strategic creative thinking at the heart of the offer.” Snowball cites the example of Sainsbury’s “Try something new today” campaign, as one idea being translated across various platforms including television, in-store and online.

Over the years, many other networks have pursued integration, but a true measure of O&M’s success will be clients buying into the approach. The move could finally herald a return to glory for the agency if Leih’s attempts to rebuild its reputation and confidence produce the desired results.

Sonoo Singh

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