Ogilvy loses itself in a never never land of a thousand chiefs

As my friend George Parker of Adscam might put it, David Ogilvy will be spinning ‘neath the turf of Château de Touffou, whence he escaped the not-so-tender clutches of WPP.

Ogilvy UK’s new CEO Michael Frohlich, who used to head the PR side and it shows, has revealed his new grand plan for what used to be a pretty decent ad agency with some other useful bits, and it’s arguably the most meaningless reconstitution of the over-used chief to date.

Charlie Rudd, previously CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, becomes chief client officer (hardly sounds like a step up Charlie, whatever it is you’re doing), Kevin Chesters, previously chief strategy officer at Ogilvy & Mather, takes the same role within the new group; Clare Lawson, previously the managing director of OgilvyOne, becomes chief delivery officer (postwoman?); Clare Donald, the former chief production officer at Ogilvy & Mather, stays as was and Ann Higgins, the previous managing director of Ogilvy Red, is made chief consulting officer.

We also have Emma De La Fosse joining Mick Mahoney and Charlie Wilson as another chief creative officer. How can you have three? It’s the equivalent of managerial bigamy.

Is there anybody left at Ogilvy who isn’t a chief something or other – cook and bottle washer is obviously next. Is Rory Sutherland still there? His bullshit detector must be having a seizure.

You have to feel for Rudd, who’s done pretty well at Ogilvy since he joined from BBH, winning lots of business even if a big portion was bequeathed by former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell. What happens if a client turns up who wants an ad campaign – some, presumably, still do – and needs to speak to the head of the agency? Dear me no, we haven’t got one of those. How about a chief client officer? Also a CCO but never mind.

The late great Ogilvy, who was remarkably precise in his use of language as the poor devil wanted it to mean something, would be speechless.

Acting WPP boss Mark Read remarked that the company should spend less time re-organising itself under meaningless banners like “horizontality” and more time trying to do what clients wanted.

Maybe he should pop by Ogilvy’s new South Bank headquarters and try to unravel this latest ball of terminological linguini.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

4 comments

  1. Adrian Langford

    What’s that saying about “too many chiefs”? But note this is a reorganisation below the level of chair and co-chair which are presumably unaffected. I’m merely envious — what a great gig it must be at the top of the pile.

  2. Robert Jenkins

    “A ball of terminological linguini.”
    Nice one Stephen!

  3. Hm. Too right about Rory and his bullshit detector kicking-in to overdrive. He MIGHT consider staying to help navigate all through this misguided, knee-jerk mess with clear thinking/ realistic game plan/ effective leadership, but really they’d have to trump-up his role and title, in commensurate fashion, wouldn’t they? What about ‘Galactic Emperor’? That just might work.

  4. Amongst all this re-shuffling, I have also re-branded myself as ‘God of War’.

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