NEW YORK Ogilvy & Mather today named John Seifert, 51, a 30-year veteran of the WPP Group agency, to lead its North American operations in the new position of chairman.
Previously, Carla Hendra, 52, and Bill Gray, 56, ran North America, as co-CEOs. Gray will now shift to vice chairman of the region in charge of select accounts and network development, the agency said.
Hendra, who's also chairman of Ogilvy's New York office, will continue as CEO of North America but will now report to Seifert.
As co-CEOs, Hendra and Gray reported to worldwide CEO Miles Young and before that, Shelly Lazarus. Young succeeded Lazarus as worldwide CEO on Jan. 1 and Lazarus remains as worldwide chairman.
"In John, we have a leader who listens -- to our clients, our people and the world around us," said Young, in a statement. "He is exceptionally well qualified for this role."
Young added: "North America is our most important region. These changes provide the clarity of leadership which the new Ogilvy I envisage requires."
The appointment is the first major move by Young since he took the reins of the network and comes as the shop grapples with client spending cutbacks and a relatively lackluster new business performance. Two weeks ago, those conditions triggered the layoff of about 160 staffers at Ogilvy, OgilvyOne and OgilvyInteractive.
Seifert previously was chairman of the shop's global brand community, overseeing some 25 global clients that represent about $1 billion in annual agency revenue. The agency's top clients include Unilever, IBM, American Express, Kraft, Ford, BP and Nestle.
During his tenure at Ogilvy, Seifert has held client service and agency management positions at offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Bangkok and Singapore.
Seifert is also the husband of Shona Seifert, a former managing director of client services at Ogilvy & Mather, who was convicted in 2005 -- along with former finance director Thomas Early -- of one count of conspiring to defraud the government and nine counts of filing false claims. The charges stemmed from an investigation into allegations that Ogilvy overbilled the federal government for the agency's work on the Office of National Drug Control Policy account. Shona Seifert and Early were sentenced to 18 and 14 months in prison, respectively.