Ogilvy Hires Its New U.S. Chief Strategy Officer Away From McCann

Steve Zaroff to help lead newly reorganized U.S. team

Courtesy of Ogilvy & Mather

Ogilvy & Mather has named Steve Zaroff, a veteran of several top agencies including the WPP network itself, as U.S. chief strategy officer.

Zaroff most recently served as North American chief strategy officer at McCann and formerly held the managing director title at its New York headquarters. He will begin the new role later this summer and report directly to Ogilvy USA CEO Lou Aversano.

“Given the strength of our strategic services at the expert level, we needed a leader who could both understand all those pieces, integrate them together and drive innovation on behalf of a very large portfolio of clients,” said Aversano, who led Ogilvy’s Manhattan office before being promoted to chief executive in January.

Aversano’s promotion was part of a major restructuring initiated by global CEO John Seifert, who created four “functions” designed to unify Ogilvy’s many teams around the world by discipline and named several individuals to lead the network’s largest accounts. When announcing a subsequent round of promotions, the U.S. chief described his agency’s newly “client-centric” approach as an attempt to unify the Ogilvy brand under one leadership team and a single P&L operating model.

“We looked internally and externally” for a new strategic lead after the shift, Aversano said. “Looking at what [Zaroff] has done in helping to rejuvenate McCann from a creative standpoint … and the fact that he was an Ogilvy alumni, it was an easy decision for us.”

Before joining McCann in 2012, Zaroff served as vp, head of strategy at the organization formerly known as SapientNitro. Earlier agency roles include deputy head of brand strategy at MDC Partners’ KBS and a stint as senior partner and planning director at Ogilvy in the early ’00s, when he worked on the American Express business.

“Like so many people in this industry, I am fascinated by the disruption taking place and the way so many companies are restructuring, reorganizing and changing in so many ways to face the modern marketing challenges in front of us,” Zaroff told Adweek.

The incoming chief added that he’d been inspired by the Ogilvy team’s “bravery” and described the agency’s latest attempts to unify its varied disciplines around the world as a “What Would David Do?” approach.

Some of the details regarding Zaroff’s responsibilities have yet to be determined, but he will work across all of Ogilvy’s American accounts, which currently include IBM, Phillips, Motorola and Nationwide, among others.