Ogilvy Parts Ways With Both Creative Leads on the Nationwide Account

By Patrick Coffee 

Just weeks after making a small series of layoffs described as “standard operating procedure,” Ogilvy & Mather New York has laid off its two creative leaders on the Nationwide account.

Agency representatives officially declined to comment on the news, but sources close to the matter did confirm that both Steve Howard and Chris Van Oosterhout are no longer with Ogilvy as of last week.

Howard was a senior partner/ECD while Oosterhout was a senior partner and group creative director; both had been with the O&M organization for several years.


Howard joined the Ogilvy team in 2012 to work on Nationwide, E*Trade and AmEx after spending more than six years with the TBWA\Chiat\Day organization in Los Angeles; while there, he was promoted to the role of global GCD on the Gatorade business. Earlier agency experience includes copywriter and senior copywriter positions at Arnold, Cole & Weber and BBDO San Francisco.

Oosterhout spent nearly seven years with Ogilvy, serving as GCD on the recent Nationwide branding campaigns starring Peyton Manning (who didn’t exactly have the best weekend of his career in case you missed it). He also worked on E*Trade and IBM, among other accounts.

It’s not quite clear why the two were let go at this time, especially since Ogilvy allegedly stands to reap the rewards of Nationwide’s decision to end its seven-year relationship with Cheil’s McKinney last month. O&M did recently lose the Time Warner Cable business to DDB–marking the first big win under the latter shop’s new CEO/North American president Wendy Clark–but that account provided a relatively small portion of the North American operation’s total revenue.

In other Ogilvy news, we hear that the role of Rob Mathias, CEO of the agency’s PR operations in North America, will change. He’s been assigned to a more strictly regional position at the agency’s Washington, D.C. office as global CEO Stuart Smith takes on additional responsibilities across North American operations.

Some of the creatives who got laid off last month were a bit irked to see the agency promoting the appearances of executives at recent and upcoming industry conferences, given that their firings were described as “tough decisions” and officially attributed to budgetary concerns by their managers.

Sounds like business as usual to us.