Earlier this week, Ogilvy formally announced the culmination of a two-year “next chapter” outlined by worldwide chief executive John Seifert. Accompanying a brand new website and visual identity, this new iteration of Ogilvy involves a silo-free organizational structure, the renaming of its OgilvyRed practice, and the launch of a new portal for employees called Connect.
The Drum spoke to Ogilvy’s worldwide chief marketer Lauren Crampsie on what this refounding of the 70-year old agency means for its staff of 50,000 and its clients, current and prospective.
First she addresses the new webpage: a responsive, minimalist site with updated fonts and visual branding created by independent branding firm Collins.
Of the site, Crampsie says: “I'm a big believer in the fact that design isn't just about how something looks visually. It's truly about how someone interacts with something, how something works, its functionality, et cetera. I really wanted to make sure that this was a site that looked beautiful, but was also very intuitive for the user, had a very simple functionality, and really celebrates why we’re all here, which is the work.”
Losing the Mather: a matter of 'brand housekeeping'
Also of note is the removal of the second half of the agency title, 'Mather.' Crampsie gives two answers for this.
Her first response: “At the end of the day, for all of [Edmund Mather’s] original contributions to the company and, at some extent, when David founded the company, Mather had not really been involved with the company for quite some time. In many ways, it's something that could have been dropped a long time ago.
“As the brand got more and more fragmented over time,” she explains further, “and added PR and social and consulting, we would have all these different variations that just used the Ogilvy name. There was absolutely no reason why we could ever keep it. As a matter of brand housekeeping, it should’ve been done quite some time ago.”
The more symbolic reason for saying goodbye to Mather, Crampsie says, was spurred by the refounding and a need for a behavioral shift within the agency. “Why I'm referring to it as a refounding is that it’s just as much about a behavioral shift that we're trying to get out of the organization as it is about launching a new site and a new identity. It’s in the way that we expect our people to work with each other, for them to work with other clients, or for people to work with journalists and other influencers and partners.”
She adds, "ultimately, we needed to just be clear and simple about who we were. and that's why we ended up with just Ogilvy.”
The website and new visual identity drew some attention in its first days, but under the hood, Ogilvy announced a tear-down of its previous organizational format, stripping traditional disciplines and replacing them with crafts, renaming OgilvyRed as Ogilvy Consulting, the creation of a new partnership model, and a new digital resourcing tool for employees called Connect.
With its first major overhaul in years, Crampsie’s faced with the role of selling a brand new way of thinking to prospective clients while keeping her current brand partners happy.
She says: “The ironic thing about the shift is that many of the other clients that we showcase on the site today were brands we’ve had for decades and the clients that we've innovated with, whether it be IBM or Coca-Cola, or the great work we do in Asia and Australia on Yum Brands. I think what happened over time, is that as you're in an industry where — by no fault of your own — you get caught up in following the crowd, and when you're following the industry and the industry is having an identity crisis, you tend to have an identity crisis within yourself and try to be everything to everyone and try to do everything."
The fragmentation and confusing chatter it created was something Crampsie says she wanted to break away from.
"I think in all of that, we lost our North star that David founded the company on, which is to do great work that helps our clients grow and 'sell or else,' which is one of the famous David quotables," she said.
Crampsie says she plans to market the agency the same way she believes many brands market themselves: by selling strong products. “At the end of the day,” she adds, “our product is the incredible ideas that we distribute for our clients. Our product is also a manifestation of relationships. We wouldn't be able to do the campaign for ‘Real Beauty’ if we didn't have a great relationship with our Dove client."
Those relationships, she added, enable the creation of everything that clients still ask for, from anthemic TV spots to websites and out-of-home activations.
The simplification of OgilvyRed into Ogilvy Consulting
On retooling OgilvyRed, its team of what she calls ‘the best consultants in the agency,' and renaming it Ogilvy Consulting, John Seifert’s message to staff two years ago stood out for Crampsie.
“As we were thinking about the refounding from the beginning, when John wrote about his strategy two years ago, the three words that came to mind were ‘clarify, centrify, unify.’”
She explained that Carla Hendra, worldwide chief digital officer and head of Ogilvy Consulting, “really explored the opportunity that was out there in the world as it related to consulting opportunities. But as she really explored how to bring creativity to a consulting mindset, we realized that it was very much a diamond in the rough."
Ogilvy Consulting, which had expanded into the UK, Asia and Latin America over the past year, is essentially the same as OgilvyRed, Crampsie explained, just in a way that more people understand.
It wasn’t an easy decision, she admits: “Red had just launched in a few key markets, but we wouldn't have been honest with ourselves and to the strategy if we just continued to let it go on as originally founded in name.”
She added: “We just really felt strongly that in the spirit of simplicity, let's call this group of individuals that work on behalf of all of Ogilvy a name that explains what they really do and what they really are.”
The Martech COE and Ogilvy’s push to product-based solutions
The worldwide chief marketer also addressed Ogilvy’s newest offering, the 900-employee fortress called the Marketing Technology Center of Excellence (Martech COE) and how it expands the agency’s capabilities beyond traditional advertising and into offering product-based solutions for its clients.
“It's really about the people that are responsible for the technology of how something comes to light. It's about to having them at the table from the very beginning and having them be an important part of the conversation, from the minute they get briefed to the minute they come up with a piece of digital technology, or a platform, or even apps.”
She credited the agency’s chief delivery officer, Gunther Schumacher, who had assembled the global studio, with the alignment of the Martech COE into the larger Ogilvy framework. “What Gunther has done a brilliant job of doing is putting just enough governance and checks and balances in place for that alignment to happen organically, but also bringing in really interesting, exciting partners.”
Those partners include Adobe, Salesforce Oracle, SiteCore, and others. Crampsie’s hope for the Martech COE is to see its value implemented across the agency. She added: “Gunther’s broken down those walls, we had taken them and made them pervasive throughout the company so that more client leaders understand their value and to how to use it.”
The inspiration from WPP and the need to ‘Connect’ employees
The shifting within all of WPP has been well documented, from the fusion of five of its branding consultancies into Superunion to the consolidation of two longtime PR firms into Burson, Cohn and Wolfe. This new Ogilvy, Crampsie agrees, is inspired by the change throughout the entire network. On paper, she said, it makes selling the agency brand easy: one business card, invoice, P&L sheet instead of four for OgilvyRed, O&M Advertising, Ogilvy Public Relations, and OgilvyOne.
The test will be in translating that inside the agency walls, she acknowledges, and part of the reason why they remodeled their partnership program and launched a new digital platform called Connect, which provides knowledge sharing and learning opportunities for the agency’s 50,000 employees.
“We now live in a world where it is more important than ever to celebrate diversity of thinking, diversity of ideas, diversity of team,” she explains. “It's also more important than ever to know what you don't know, to know what you can do well, know what you can't do well, and be willing to be vulnerable about what you can do well to help deliver the best solution that you can for your client.”
This, she adds, will have the potential to bring those employees to its WPP partners in branding, health and wellness, VR, and other avenues.
“I think everything that WPP has been faced with and has been innovating on has all [been] done to provide a better brand experience for clients. They were definitely the inspiration behind that capability and to how we intend on using it.”
Ogilvy’s “refounding” caused a lot of buzz in and outside of the agency’s walls. Crampsie says of the 24 hours after John Seifert formally unveiled the new Ogilvy: “Even I, as someone who's been on this journey with John, even before he became Chairman and CEO, I never thought in a million years that we would come out on day one with as much excitement, energy, inspiration, positivity, passion as we did. It just goes to show how much power was really done in the lead up to it.”
However, she says: “In many cases, the harder work starts today. We didn't want to have people just look at the site and say, wow, they feel different. What really needs to feel different is when a client walks into a meeting, or is a business prospect. Those are the people, those are the individuals that I want to hear say, ‘Oh, they feel different! This is a completely different Ogilvy.’ I don’t want to spend too much time on the launch because I think we have a real job to do, and we have to do right for our people and our clients.”
Crampsie has been in the business of selling Ogilvy’s offerings since she joined as a member of its new business team in 2004. The real work of selling this revamped iteration of her agency to prospective clients, while appeasing older clients, begins the day after launch.
“I believe that one step on the road to success is two steps on the path to humility. When you do something like we did, ultimately it's about finding value for a client. But I've been very hesitant to talk about it in a celebratory manner because of that reason. I want to make sure that we as a company understand that in many ways, the simple work is done and now the hard work has to begin. We're getting to a point where tough decisions have to be made. We have to be able to hold each other accountable for the precedent that we've now set and the expectations of the organization. And if people aren't meeting expectations, we have to be willing to have the tough conversations and make the tough decisions. Then, only time will tell."
It was a two-year process to bring this vision Seifert into fruition, and when asked about her hopes for the next two years for the Ogilvy brands, Crampsie explains: “My hope for the next few years is for people to stop talking about what we're talking about today because it’ll become so ingrained in the DNA of the company and our people are just already talking about the work more."
She continues: “They're already bringing a diversity of people and ideas to the table. They're already making the connection to use the Martech COE at the beginning of a brief. I hope that in two years that it will feel like 12 years ago, because it will be so ingrained in the way that our people come to work. I’d be more than happy talking about the great work that we're doing for our clients, the great people that we're hiring. That's really my focus for marketing the brand moving forward: to have our product get better and better because of the decisions that we made.”