Ogilvy goes for a different agency structure

Ogilvy is not your normal PR agency for a variety of reasons, the first and most significant being that it carries the name of a man who was an advertising legend and created the template for many of the practices that creative agencies take for granted nowadays.

Ogilvy is not your normal PR agency for a variety of reasons, the first and most significant being that it carries the name of a man who was an advertising legend and created the template for many of the practices that creative agencies take for granted nowadays.

By keeping that name for its PR operation instead of trading under a completely new banner, the WPP subsidiary has a head start in creating a brand but also almost instinctively carries advertising connotations that are difficult to shake off.

The latter is often used by Ogilvy's competitors to point to a lack of real commitment to PR. They say PR is just a subset of advertising for Ogilvy.

That sense was strengthened when Ogilvy started the process of bringing the structure of its US business into line with that in Europe and Asia.

Ogilvy arranges itself on a matrix structure, with discipline heads reporting into group regional heads, while also reporting up the chain to their vertical discipline boss. Everyone has a geographical head, which Ogilvy calls a “Compass” head, and a discipline reporting line.

Who these people are varies from region to region. In some areas an advertising person is the principal and PR reports to them. In others, a PR person is in charge and advertising reports to them. In other cases, such as the West, the advertising and PR managers act as joint heads.

Of course, Ogilvy's competitors paint this as advertising ruling the roost over PR, usually highlighting the regions where the ad person is in charge. It's a different way of doing things and the cynics out there will say it's just a cover for a structure that is led by advertising.

I don't think it's quite as simple as that, but the expansion of Dushka Zapata's role in Ogilvy's San Francisco office definitely suggests the intention is to integrate advertising and PR services more closely than other networked agencies.

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