Internal Memo: Ogilvy Names New CEO, Executive Directors

By Erik Oster 

Ogilvy & Mather appointed 37-year agency veteran John Seifert as its new global CEO, effective immediately.

Seifert succeeds Miles Young, who will remain as worldwide chairman until September 1, when Seifert succeed him in that role as well. He will retain his duties as chairman and CEO of Ogilvy North America, although the agency plans to name a replacement in that position in the future. The appointment finally answers questions about who would succeed Young following his announcement last June that he would leave advertising to accept a position as Warden of Fellows of New College at Oxford University. In an internal memo, Young called Seifert a “truly exemplary Ogilvy citizen,” adding that he “persistently and patiently has led a bottom-up revival of the business” in North America. 

Additionally, the agency appointed Paul Heath and Paul O’Donnell as worldwide executive directors. Heath’s focus will be on new business, clients and creative issues; while O’Donnell will be responsible for “reforming our organization so that the New Model Agency we are seeking to implement will become a reality.”

The agency also appointed Tham Khai Meng as co-chairman, responsible for running board meeting along with  Young and then Sefiert. 

Young announced the new appointments in an internal memo, which we’ve provided in its entirety below:

As has been pre-announced, I will be moving back to the UK in September of this year.

I am very pleased to announce the following management appointments with immediate effect:

  1. BoardTham Khai Meng will become Co-Chairman of the Board, sharing the responsibility for chairing our Board meetings with me, and then with my successor. We are an agency founded on great work and committed to great work, and this pairing underlines how important that is to us now more than ever.
  2. CEOMartin and I are absolutely delighted to announce that John Seifert will become the next Worldwide CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, with immediate effect. In September, when I step down as Chairman, John will succeed me.John Seifert is a truly exemplary Ogilvy citizen. He joined us in 1979, and has worked in the US and Asia, and globally, over the course of the last 37 years. Most recently I appointed John to head up North America on arriving in New York, at a time when we all felt it was in need of reinvigoration. The contrast between then and now is dramatic: John persistently and patiently has led a bottom-up revival of the business.The job which John is taking on is—in the last resort—a client facing role. And if you talk to John’s clients you will find a fan club united in admiration of him. He generates the most precious of commodities – trust. Trust built through honesty, and trust earned by delivery. So it is – finally – John’s values which qualify him for this role. His values and the brand’s are indistinguishable. He cares about people. And he cares about how we go about our business. He is a listener and he is committed to taking the agenda of Twin Peaks – of great work and effectiveness – forward. And he is thoughtful about all the issues the industry faces. John and I will be working closely together in the next months.
  3. Worldwide Executive DirectorsFor some time, I have believed that the concentration of too much responsibility in one person creates an uncomfortable role in an agency, which is now $2.7 billion large. Therefore, I am very pleased to announce that Paul Heath and Paul O’Donnell are appointed Worldwide Executive Directors. Paul Heath will focus mainly on new business, as well as clients and creative issues; Paul O’Donnell will focus on reforming our organization so that the New Model Agency we are seeking to implement will become a reality. Both Pauls will retain their responsibilities for Asia and Europe respectively. These roles do not change existing reporting lines within the agency.Together with Vice Chairman Carla Hendra, the leader of our consulting business, and Ben Richards, our Worldwide Chief Strategy Officer of Business Transformation, this is the core team who will work with John, Khai and the heads of disciplines to drive growth. You will recall in my New Year’s letter I laid this down as our most important priority. It will not happen unless we work somewhat differently, and we believe that this structure will focus more management time on the things which stimulate growth directly and those which will release it.

From a personal point of view, the time for me to thank all of you is not now but in September. And, lastly, I will continue to be involved in a non-executive role in a number of clients and issues.

Finally, I would like to extend my congratulations to all the above, but especially to John. Please join me in that and in wishing him good fortune. And please give him all your support as he starts his mandate.