NEW YORK: After a pair of executives at advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather were charged with conspiracy and filing false claims in an effort to pad bills for a government-sponsored drug campaign, sister agency Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide said it was seeing little confusion among clients about the fact that the firms operate independently.
Though the two WPP-owned firms share a name, "We're not seeing concern," said Marcia Silverman, CEO of Ogilvy PR. "Clients know that we're separate companies with separate billing processes."
However, in order to clarify any confusion, Silverman said that local office heads have been briefed on the situation and given talking points in the event that clients or other stakeholders have questions.
"If clients at the local level ask questions, we answer them," Silverman said. "We're separate, but because we're sensitive to our sister company, we want to let people know that they haven't been convicted."
The two Ogilvy & Mather executives - former New York finance director Thomas Early and former senior partner Shona Seifert - are accused of submitting inflated bills to the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1999 and 2000. Both have since left the company, though Seifert is currently president of Omnicom-owned advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day's New York office.
The bills, for which Ogilvy has already returned $1.8 million, were for an ad campaign sponsored by the federal government that linked illegal drug use to terrorism, teen pregnancy, and car accidents.