At Flagship Office, Creative Head Becomes Co-President With Managing Director
NEW YORK–Ogilvy & Mather has named a creative executive co-president of its flagship New York office, the first time a creative staffer has headed the agency since Norman Berry was president in the mid-1980s.
Rick Boyko, formerly creative head, will be paired as co-president with Bill Gray, formerly managing director. The move is intended to leverage Ogilvy’s creative heritage.
The appointments of Boyko, 48, and Gray, 45, “send a signal” that Ogilvy is “dead serious” about improving its creative work by giving top creative executives equal status with account managers, according to Tro Piliguian, president of Ogilvy & Mather North America. “We’re going to give them equal say in running the business,” he said.
“This is a big cultural shift,” said one source. “The agency was founded as a boutique by a copywriter [David Ogilvy]. Now it’s owned by a holding company and run by account executives. So this brings back some balance.”
Boyko and Gray, who have been working closely together for several years, will now be in charge of strategy, staffing, budgets, creative output and the overall growth of the New York office, the largest single operation in both the Ogilvy network and its parent, WPP Group.
Boyko noted that other top global agencies with strong creative reputations are managed partly or fully by creative executives. “The business we are in is advertising,” he said. “We want creative to be more than just a department–the whole agency has to run that way.”
BBDO, TBWA Chiat/Day, Lowe & Partners/SMS, Ammirati Puris Lintas and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners are among the relatively few agencies historically managed by creative executives.
The move is also an example of worldwide chairman and chief executive Shelly Lazarus’ pledge to evolve Ogilvy’s “Brand Stewardship” philosophy to the next level by improving creative output [Adweek, Oct. 6].
If the move is successful in New York, the management structure could be extended to Ogilvy’s other full-service offices in North America, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta and Toronto.
Piliguian, who has served as president of the $1.5 billion New York office since 1994, will give up that title to focus on his responsibilities as North American president, a post he ascended to in May 1997.
The reorganization comes at a time of strong growth for the New York office, which has nearly doubled its billings since 1993. “We’re building from strength,” noted Gray. “This shows that department loyalty is not what it’s all about.”
The strategy of elevating creative executives to co-management status is also being implemented overseas. Last month, Luis Bassat, chairman and chief creative director of Bassat, Ogilvy Group in Barcelona, Spain, was named to the additional post of co-chairman and creative director of Ogilvy Europe, Africa, Middle East, where he is partnering with chairman Mike Walsh. In Latin America, regional creative director Luiz Vieira will likely partner with Flavio Correa, president of Ogilvy & Mather Latin American & the Caribbean.
The working model for the plan has been the successful partnership between regional creative director Neil French and president Miles Young in Ogilvy’s Asia/Pacific region.
The plan was initiated when Ogilvy’s “worldwide creative council” proposed that creative executives share management duties.