Read Ogilvy CEO John Seifert’s Internal Memo on the Latest Round of Executive Changes

By Patrick Coffee 

It’s been a little hard to keep up with all the recent changes at Ogilvy, even for people who work there. We’re told that big announcements often lead to confusion because there are so many employees on so many different teams.

Multiple one-time Ogilvy veterans have described the organization as “top-heavy” despite repeated efforts to streamline and eliminate those dreaded silos, which hints at why such moves are still necessary.


On that note, this afternoon Adweek reported on an all staff memo released last night by global CEO John Seifert in which he outlined the latest chapter in a reorg that has now been going on for well over two years. His main point: this is the new normal.

The only significant departures are not technically news, because head of delivery Gunther Schumacher and Stuart Smith, who led the PR division, both left Ogilvy last month. Beyond that, lots of people got new responsibilities or expanded roles. And everyone will convene in Nashville later this month to figure out what Ogilvy means creatively and how it can stand out from other agency networks in that respect.

Here is the full, very extensive memo for your perusal.

Date: February 14, 2019

From: John Seifert

To: Worldwide Staff

Subject: Next Phase Next Chapter

I’m pleased to share some important network leadership announcements for 2019.


2019 begins my fourth year as Chief Executive, Worldwide of The Ogilvy Group. I am incredibly proud of our progress over the past three years as we embarked on the most comprehensive transformation agenda in the company’s 70-year history.

We have referred to this agenda as our “Next Chapter.” While we think of this as a company transformation, it’s really all about the next chapter for each of us individually and collectively.

Now may be a moment to move beyond “Next Chapter” as a banner headline of our collective transformation, and simply accept the reality that change is perpetual … and that we will always be pursuing, in big and small ways, a shared agenda to better ourselves and Ogilvy in the face of all that challenges and inspires us.

We have accomplished so much the past three years. We have clarified our purpose to make brands matter in this era of great fragmentation. We affirmed our five core values as a brand and company to provide inspiration for how we work together in the “founder brand” spirit of David Ogilvy.

We also made clear that our new operating system (Ogilvy OS), our six core Capabilities, and dozen or so Crafts would better define and simplify the value proposition of our people as a creative network. Together, we committed to raise the quality of our work in everything we do – as a globally integrated enterprise – to create and sustain brand and business value for our clients.

The ongoing mission of clarifying, simplifying, and unifying Ogilvy in the context of this strategy remains my highest priority for restoring the company to growth for today and tomorrow.

As we grow as one company, so will opportunities for our people grow across the network.

Ogilvy Operating System (OS)

From an initial pilot on several major new business wins, to roll-out among the worldwide Strategy community and many others, Ogilvy OS, under our Worldwide Chief Strategy Officer Ben Richards’ remarkable leadership, has developed way beyond my expectations over the past 24 months.

In early March, we will share the full offering of each Capability’s core services and products that will take Ogilvy OS to the next level of deployment across the network. I saw a demo of “what’s to come” in San Francisco two weeks ago. I’m confident you will be amazed by our collective progress on Ogilvy OS.

Delivery 2.0

An essential component of Ogilvy OS is how we “realize” solutions for our clients in the market. We call this Delivery.

In partnership with Ben, Gunther Schumacher has been the architect of Delivery – a critical mix of talent, skills, business tools, and technology partners that enable us to realize the solutions clients seek from us. At the end of January, Gunther decided to leave Ogilvy after 24 years to pursue a significant career shift: he joined a top U.S. law firm as its Chief Revenue Officer, with responsibility for marketing, practice management, and (no surprise) business transformation.

Thanks to Gunther’s leadership, we now fully recognize that Delivery is the key to making our “One Ogilvy” business model work. It impacts every Craft and Capability … in every market … and for every client in the company. Over the next three months we will develop a three-year plan for commercial transformation (“Delivery 2.0”) of The Ogilvy Group.

To meet this challenge, we will depend on an extraordinary group of partners who have the specialist skills, self-determination, and collaborative mindset to drive the Delivery 2.0 agenda forward, taking on some of the network’s most demanding operations’ challenges.

Kathleen Kelly (Program Management), Mike Tidmarsh (Technology), Tony Grigg (Hogarth production partnership), and Ab Gaur (Technology “Center of Excellence” or COE) will lead the Delivery 2.0 community reporting to Steve Goldstein and me.

Beyond the leaders noted above, Delivery 2.0 represents a global community of Chief Delivery Officers (CDOs), Content Studio experts, and many other operations’ leaders who have worked incredibly hard to support our next chapter agenda. I’m incredibly proud of their work to date and excited for the next phase of truly integrating our business system for commercial excellence globally.

Capability Leadership

What makes Ogilvy OS work is the excellence of our six core Capabilities and the leadership behind them. Each of our global Capability leaders has a critical role to play in codifying each Capability offer as part of Ogilvy OS, while also ensuring that we execute effectively in each market with the best talent and skills possible.

Public Relations and Influence (PR&I) – Stuart Smith has been leading our “Public Relations and Influence” capability for the past three years.

Stuart has also decided to leave Ogilvy after nearly 10 years (15 years with WPP) to join his wife, Gail Becker, in an exciting new venture called, Vegolutionary Foods. The business is off to an incredibly fast start, which Stuart could not resist being part of.

Similar to Gunther, Stuart surrounded himself with an exceptional team of public relations professionals from across our network. I will now lead this team on an interim basis to accelerate our growth plan and development agenda for the PR&I capability globally. We will be ready to share our new leadership model and growth priorities by mid-March.

Brand Strategy – I’m very excited to announce the appointment of Antonis Kocheilas as the first global leader of our “Brand Strategy” capability. Antonis has been, and will continue to be, the global Strategy leader for SC Johnson. In his new role, he will also support a broader portfolio of Top 50 clients and critical new business priorities.

Antonis is a prolific thought leader and publisher on all aspects of brand strategy. He will form and lead a world-class community of “whole brand” strategists who will codify our very best brand strategy thinking for the benefit of all our Capabilities and Crafts, and better leverage Brand Strategy as a critical enabler of new business growth among existing and new clients.

Advertising – Adam Tucker has been leading our “Advertising” capability for nearly a year. He has worked closely with Paul Matheson of our global Strategy community to develop a modern view on how we will define the Advertising capability in the context of Ogilvy OS.

The definition of “what is advertising?” has evolved dramatically since our company’s founding in 1948. Adam and his partners have brought fresh perspective to answering this timeless question, which I’m confident will make our advertising work more famous and more effective. Adam will unveil this latest thinking to the Worldwide Creative Council later this month, and then share network-wide in March.

Customer Engagement and Commerce (CE&C) – Jimmy Schougaard succeeded Brian Fetherstonhaugh late last year as the global leader of “Customer Engagement and Commerce.”

This capability has developed rapidly in terms of sophistication and (expanded) expertise, with client spending growing dramatically in areas of: data driven personalization, omni-channel distribution, new models of creative content making, and more sophisticated analytics for ROI measurement … all of which is essential to truly integrating the marketing, communications, and commerce systems of our clients.

Jimmy has worked on the leading edge of all these developments and is well positioned to lead our network offering in CE&C, as well as our Data craft, going forward.

Partnerships – Ben Levine, a terrific Client Service leader in the USA, was appointed last year to design and develop a whole new capability of The Ogilvy Group – “Partnerships.” More than at any time in Ogilvy’s history, we need to leverage the power of partnership – within Ogilvy, WPP, and beyond – to make brands matter. Whether it’s through technology, social platforms, specialist production, data and analytics, or any emerging expertise important to clients, we must learn to be exceptional partners to meet the promise of our modern marketing age.

Ben has very quickly activated exciting new partnerships inside and outside Ogilvy that are leading to more effective, more efficient, and more innovative solutions for our clients.

Digital Transformation – Since she first joined Ogilvy in 1996, Carla Hendra has operated on the leading edge of “Digital Transformation” for Ogilvy and our clients. Under Carla’s leadership we have pulled together a global community of digital specialists who are not only focused on transforming our work and ways of working in the digital age; collectively they will lead and drive our growth agenda in the critical area of “Digital Platform Services” (DPS) globally, working in close partnership with WPP and other external technology partners.

Ogilvy Consulting

We have exciting plans to expand our fast-growing Ogilvy Consulting business in 2019. Under Carla Hendra’s leadership, this team has worked tirelessly to develop and grow a first-class consulting offer across the network. In addition to supporting our “Digital Transformation” capability, we will be investing in new talent and thought leadership to accelerate growth in our Health, Government, and (newest) Corporate practices.

I have also asked the Ogilvy Consulting team to partner with me on business ventures that drive revenue and brand value for Ogilvy, without the need to acquire or invest equity in a partner’s business. I want to leverage Ogilvy’s brand and strategic marketing knowledge to help new ventures grow with the capital of others.

Carla and I have asked Susan Machtiger to lead our first ventures’ pilot with an exciting start-up company called, HundredX. We are partnering with HundredX, a progressive data and analytics company founded by Rob Pace (former Senior Partner of Goldman Sachs), to help them develop a business model and marketing value proposition for new customers and investors. This partnership will bring together exciting data, technology, and brand/consumer insights to differentiate Ogilvy and HundredX among a wide range of high value current and new client opportunities.

Specialist Brand Companies

One of WPP’s highest priorities under new Chief Executive, Mark Read, is to raise the creative standards and quality of work across the WPP Group broadly and the worldwide creative networks specifically (e.g. Ogilvy, GREY, Wunderman Thompson, VMLY&R).

I have asked Philip Heimann, WPP’s global team leader on SC Johnson, to take on an executive leadership role to better connect and grow the creative community of The Ogilvy Group by working more closely with several of our (creative) Specialist Brand Companies: DAVID (Miami, Brazil, and Argentina), INGO (Sweden), john st. (Canada), and Coley Porter Bell (London and New York).

These four companies are counted among the hottest independent creative agencies in the world. They have retained their founder cultures, creative centricity, and entrepreneurial spirit, all while growing faster than Ogilvy as a whole. We have much more to learn from and share with each other to do better work and grow faster together. Philip is one of our most creative client service leaders in the network; his business development experience will help accelerate our creative leadership agenda across the company.

Ogilvy Health

We welcome back Ogilvy CommonHealth to The Ogilvy Group in the USA and Canada. We will now market all of our health services and products globally under the “Ogilvy Health” banner.

The health and wellness market space is huge, and a top priority for growth. I have asked Andrew Schirmer (Chief Executive, Ogilvy CommonHealth), Kate Cronin (our health practice leader for the USA), and Marion McDonald (who leads our health practice internationally) to work as one team under Carla Hendra’s sponsorship to pull together all “Ogilvy Health” offerings into an integrated practice, leveraging all of our Capabilities and Crafts from across the Ogilvy network for growth in the health marketplace.

Worldwide Creative Council

Finally, I want to reinforce the importance of our global creative community now led by my partner, Piyush Pandey, Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide. We will gather a group of diverse creative leaders from across the Ogilvy network in Nashville, Tennessee at the end of February to reaffirm our creative point-of-view as a brand – and re-set our creative ambition for the The Ogilvy Group at large. We will focus on our people, our work, and our clients … and how we individually and collectively raise our sights for great work across the worldwide network.

Piyush and I can’t wait to share the work of this amazing creative community with all of you in March.

One more thing

The past few years have not been easy. Our world, our clients, our industry, and our people have experienced more volatility and ambiguity than we sometimes think possible. It’s a new reality that we are all adapting to embrace.

The good news: we saw it all coming. Our next chapter strategy and plan embraced these challenges and opportunities. We charted a path that would enable us to stand apart as a beacon of leadership in our industry. Throughout our 70 years, the Ogilvy brand has always risen to an ever-changing world around us.

2019 is our year to focus, more than ever, on what matters most: our people, our work, and our clients’ success. Thanks to your hard work and support, we know who we are, what we believe in, and why it all matters.

This is our moment to separate the Ogilvy brand from the pack.

Let’s rise to it.

John Seifert
Chief Executive, Worldwide