Frohlich’s departure for Weber Shandwick leaves key UK CEO post open at Ogilvy

What used to be one of the biggest jobs in London’s adland is now vacant – Ogilvy UK CEO Michael Frohlich is leaving to return to PR as EMEA CEO at Interpublic-owned Weber Shandwick.

Frohlich (below) made waves when, on succeeding Annette King who left for Publicis Groupe, he re-organised the creative agency in moves involving the apparent demotion of CEO Charlie Rudd to chief client officer. Rudd re-emerged as CEO of Leo Burnett.

Ogilvy UK is important to owner WPP in its own right and as the hub for many global accounts, a dual role which has sometimes frustrated various leaders. Ogilvy globally is now headed by Andy Main who joined from Deloitte.

Frohlich’s background is in PR. He says: “Weber Shandwick has made bold moves – across digital, innovation, analytics and organizational transformation – to transform the agency into the kind of deeply valued business partner that can solve problems plaguing not just chief communications officers, but CEOs and CMOs, as well.

“I can’t wait to be a part of this incredible agency and work with the leadership team to help further bolster its evolution as we lean into the future together.”

Which doesn’t sound, how shall we put it, regretful.

The big Madison Avenue-style agencies on which the ad holding companies were built are all facing stiff challenges with the flow to digital, clients coming down hard on fees and new or new-style creative agencies pinching business.

Many of them are trying to become business transformation companies – like the big consultants. But can they do this and sustain the creative resources that are still needed? WPP has tried to do this by merging JWT into Wunderman, Grey into AKQA and Y&R into VML. Ogilvy, though, still stands alone.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.