Ogilvy NY Says Goodbye to Its Director of Creative Talent

By Patrick Coffee 

Earlier this month, we posted on a few staffing changes at Ogilvy New York (which is currently pitching Coca-Cola along with nine other agencies).

One of the pending departures mentioned was that of Lisa Clunie, the senior partner and director of creative management for the agency’s entire North American operation.

Clunie joined the agency at a crucial point in 2011 after spending several years on the accounts side at Carmichael Lynch, Fallon, and BBH and serving nearly three years as managing director of Saatch & Saatchi’s New York office. She clearly made a very big impression on North American CCO Steve Simpson, the “writer’s writer” who joined Ogilvy in 2010 after spending 15 years as one of the partners in Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.


The “media content company” mentioned in Simpson’s internal memo (see below) that went out to the entire Ogilvy North America organization last Friday is Refinery29.

That site, which launched in 2005 to serve a young, primarily female demographic, recently won the Publisher of the Year designation at Digiday’s media awards for an extended series called “The Anti-Diet Project.

Earlier this year, Refinery29 made headlines by hiring a former VICE executive to run its video department, and last week Capital New York reported that the property would move forward with its plans to appeal to a more general audience by hiring reporters to cover politics, technology, and broader cultural concerns.

Here’s the memo from Simpson:

March 20, 2015



Almost four years ago, Lisa Clunie joined Ogilvy & Mather to help invigorate a creative culture that needed it. We were still weighed down by challenges that had affected everyone and every industry (the near collapse of the world in 2008) and maybe also by a special brand of crankiness of our own manufacture.

Sometimes, however, a bold and bright personality can lift a company’s mood and raise its ambition by sheer force of example.

Lisa’s impact was important and immediate. She helped redesign the way “creative” works–so that creative is allowed to work. She helped make the creative discipline more professional, inspiring and playful. She cut through complexity in a way that wasn’t as effortless as it looked. And while everyone in our industry vows they are “about the work,” Lisa has always been about the work, and the people, equally. We are talent, not overhead.

After lending us the best of her energies, Lisa is leaving to join a media content company as COO. It is a young company, nine years old, and growing fast. There she will surely experience new kinds of assaults upon her optimism—but just as surely, she will deflect them with the wit, grace and strength we expect from Lisa and that we will sincerely miss.

Please join me in wishing Lisa the very best of luck.

Steve Simpson