Principal: Christopher Graves, global CEO
Ownership: WPP Group
Subsidiary agencies: Feinstein Kean Healthcare
Offices: 67 majority/wholly owned globally; 9 in the US
Revenue: Global: $200 million to $300 million; US: $100 million to $200 million
Headcount: Global, about 1,700; US, between 550 and 650
Through the years, Ogilvy PR Worldwide has enjoyed a global reputation for being an extremely creative firm and, more recently, a leading authority on digital PR. This is something it has wanted to uphold with Christopher Graves transitioning into his new role as global CEO.
"Creativity that doesn't drive your client's business is useless," says Graves, who was promoted to succeed longtime CEO and now chairman Marcia Silverman. "We want to maintain our reputation for creativity and double up on the effectiveness part."
Profit, he adds, increased slightly, while revenue was slightly off expectations.
The firm was led by the global healthcare, public affairs, and social marketing practices, all of which remain growth targets for 2010. Graves cites California, which grew year over year, as a strength, as well as Feinstein Kean, which reported record profit.
"We ended up having pretty strong new business, but I still think it's tilted towards organic growth," says Graves.
Client work expanded globally with companies such as LG, Ford, LexisNexis, and Unilever, while 30% of the firm's 2009 wins was global. In the US, Ogilvy picked up accounts with the Centers for Disease Control, Hilton, and Savvis. It lost AOR account American Chemistry Council.
For 2010, Graves hopes to build on the firm's strongest practices, such as healthcare and public affairs, and expand them globally, as well as build out the digital group.
"Digital influence isn't one of the biggest in absolute revenues," he notes, "but [it] is certainly the fastest growing."
Another growth area is internal communications projects, especially on issues relating to energy and the environment, as companies look to engage more with both internal and external stakeholders.
"Internal communications will be one of our single biggest opportunities in 2010," says Graves. "We're already seeing it with some giant pieces of work. People must walk the walk before they can start talking externally about their ‘green' efforts, say, and make sure their own employees' behavior is aligned and that they're engaged."
Focus on talent
Graves says he'd like to develop the agency's talent by tapping into its global network to fill key senior roles. The idea is that it could lead to new ideas and creativity.
To support this, he cites the promotions of Steve Dahllof to regional CEO of Asia-Pacific, Samantha Allen to MD of global consumer marketing, and Bill Reihl to head of North American consumer marketing.
"As long as we have the talent inside, I will always prefer to move people around the planet," says Graves. "I'm going to attempt to do more of that."
Graves – who helms an internal blog called ChrisCrossing, where he writes about his travels and on culture building for the firm – also plans to expand Ogilvy's staff training and development.
He remains positive, but cautious. "We're budgeting for very low growth over 2009," says Graves. "We're hoping that we're conservative. We're seeing a very strong start to the year, but I always worry about a double dip. I worry about the second half."