One classic agency showed its new face to the world today following nearly two years’ worth of restructuring moves, staffing changes and new financial reporting standards—not to mention the usual ins, outs, ups and downs of the ad world.
Seventy years to the day after copywriter David Ogilvy decided to launch his own operation in Manhattan, the company that bears his name announced its “re-founding” as a creative network that “Makes Brands Matter,” according to a new tagline.
Along with this positioning comes a new logo, color scheme, website, organizational design, consultancy practice, digital platform and employee video.
The film below, which traces the history of the agency from its founding to the present day, preceded an announcement beamed to all of the network’s 15,000-plus employees around the world.
Brian Collins, founder and chief creative officer of the design firm that bears his name, worked with Ogilvy to give the agency its new look. “The Ogilvy experience is about the relentless pursuit of excellence,” he said. “Its clients, its team members, its partners—they all feel the same drive that ignites the whole company.”
Collins, who served as CCO of the Brand Integration Group at Ogilvy before launching his own venture in 2007, added, “In my decade as part of the Ogilvy team I felt it firsthand. It’s been an honor for my team to work with Ogilvy to redefine their company—and their experience—in a way that’ll power them far into the future.”
Ogilvy revised its logo font along with a brighter Pantone red and a a subtler palette including grey, pink, blue and yellow. According to the press release, these developments symbolize Ogilvy’s desire to modernize while hewing to the principles that made it stand out in the first place.
Beyond the visible changes, Ogilvy and Collins also created a new positioning based on five key values determined by leadership.
In many ways, this new Ogilvy is not so different from the organization we’ve come to know. Some key elements of the classic lineup, however, are now missing—chief among them the network’s many practice-specific sub-brands like OgilvyOne, Ogilvy PR, Social@Ogilvy and Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide.
In place of these divisions come 12 “crafts” (Creative; Strategy; Delivery; Client Service; Data; Finance; Technology; Talent; Business Development; Marketing and Communications; Administrative; and Production) and six “core capabilities” (Brand Strategy; Advertising; Customer Engagement and Commerce; PR and Influence; Digital Transformation; and Partnerships) that will define the network.
Now, the company operates as a single brand combining its direct marketing, creative advertising and public relations divisions In that respect, the new orientation resembles the new U.S. structure announced in April, which had one executive leading each practice-based team.
Ogilvy Consulting, the new enterprise offering pivoting off the success of OgilvyRED, will work across all other parts of the organization.
The goal of this extended and sometimes challenging effort, according to worldwide chairman and CEO John Seifert, has been to clarify what Ogilvy is—and, just as importantly, what it is not—as the industry’s oldest agencies struggle to assert their identities.
“This is the next chapter, not the last chapter,” Seifert said, adding that agency leadership hopes the new positioning better emphasizes to employees and clients why they want to work at Ogilvy and with Ogilvy, respectively.
He told Adweek that every client with whom he shared this narrative has told him the same thing: “Go faster.”
“This isn’t the Ogilvy you know,” Seifert added, conceding that the organization grew too complicated over time by carving up its services to meet disparate client needs until it reached a “tipping point” in which “14 specialists would walk into a room with slightly different Ogilvy business cards.”
“No one is going to buy us if they don’t understand us,” he added.
Now, he said, the brand will be central—and its core offering will be creativity. Unlike other major networks, Seifert said, Ogilvy does not serve as a data warehouse; it does not sell ads programmatically; it will not build digital infrastructure for clients.
“We are building on the creative heritage of David Ogilvy to fuel our future,” said CCO Tham Khai Meng, echoing Seifert’s argument that the product is central to the agency’s identity.
Another key goal in this reorganization is keeping Ogilvy financially viable.
Within nine months of taking control, Seifert had already made big changes by bringing all North American offices and practices under one P&L in the interest of reducing internecine struggles to maintain efficiency.
Like most major agencies, Ogilvy has recently moved to streamline its operations. This year alone, it has gone through multiple small rounds of layoffs that affected between 2 and 3 percent of total U.S. staff.
At the same time, Seifert hopes to repair the fragmented nature of the organization, which he argued has increased its overall expenses in the past. One key factor is Ogilvy’s new global digital platform Connect, which, like Publicis Groupe’s Marcel, is designed to allow for a more collaborative environment in which teams across the globe can more easily connect.
Seifert clarified that Ogilvy does not claim to have built the perfect mousetrap, adding that its two-year evolution is “about playing the long game” via a series of two steps forward, one step back-style moves that aim to eventually create a more agile organization.
In what may be the final piece of the puzzle, Ogilvy is eliminating chairman-like titles that go beyond one’s general function and pivoting toward a model in which Seifert estimates that approximately 10 percent of total staff will hold some sort of partnership role.
He also looks to greatly increase the number of women in that group, just as Ogilvy USA CEO Lou Aversano recently promised to close the network’s gender pay gap.
“We currently have 35 executive partners, 36 percent of whom are women,” Seifert said. “That will be 50 percent within the next two years, and hopefully sooner.”
He also told Adweek the company wants greater generational range among its partners, adding, “It’s not just people looking for the gold watch … which, by the way, we don’t have anymore.”