Ogilvy not only passed its targets for 2008, but also saw growth organically and with new business, notes CEO Marcia Silverman.
"We even branched out in some of the areas [where] we're very strong," she says. "We just had a great year."
As for 2009, Silverman says that she doesn't expect to mimic the robust year that the agency had in 2008, but the firm should do fine – despite the economic crisis – and better than Silverman expected.
"So far, because of the kinds of work we do, we're holding up well and we have a strong corporate practice," she explains. "We're going to follow our usual path, but [our] big focuses are healthcare, consumer, corporate, and technology."
The firm has opened nearly a dozen global offices to better serve its international clients in the course of the past two years, and it will continue to ensure that its global network remains strong. Silverman notes that the agency is gaining more global clients.
Ogilvy will also focus on its digital practice, as it has become one of the firm's biggest strengths. In 2008, the agency made a number of strategic hires and promotions in the practice and it also conducted internal digital training for its employees.
"Clients are asking for it and we're delivering it," says Silverman. "Digital is growing by leaps and bounds."
She adds that the economy will remain the firm's biggest challenge in 2009.
The agency reported that it has more than 1,700 employees worldwide, although it declined to provide an exact headcount. Turnover was 15%.
Senior hires included Kiersten Zweibaum as MD of the global corporate practice; Ian Higgins, executive chairman of Ogilvy Earth; Sally Barton, EVP of healthcare; Jim Heininger, EVP of consumer marketing; Mindy Fletcher, SVP of public affairs; Marianne Steiner, SVP of consumer marketing; and Beth Haiken, SVP of corporate.
Internally, the firm hired Trish Eitel as SVP of social marketing for strategy and planning, and David McConnaughey as SVP of public affairs. Both were planners for the Ogilvy Group.
Ogilvy promoted a number of its senior staffers, including John Bell to MD for 360° Digital Influence; Gordon Taylor to MD of Ogilvy Government Relations; Jennifer Wayman to EVP of social marketing; Chris Fillip to EVP of public health; Cynthia Isaac to SVP of healthcare; Andy Kochar to US regional finance director; Dan LaRusso to SVP of technology; Paul Sherer to SVP and group director of corporate; Shari Schnall to SVP of consumer marketing; Joan Cetera to SVP and deputy group director of consumer marketing; and Kristin Gearty to SVP of healthcare and director of women's health for healthcare.
Ogilvy opened six new offices – Buenos Aires, Kolkata, Karachi, Milan, Namibia, and Tunis.
"Asia-Pacific region continues to be a strong contributor to our global success, having grown to twice the size of any competitor with a presence in every major market," says Silverman. "It was [done] to service clients, by and large."
Practice areas include 360° Digital Influence, public affairs, corporate, healthcare, consumer marketing, technology, social marketing, and entertainment.
Healthcare and public affairs each make up 24% of the agency's business, although the digital practice is "one of Ogilvy's strongest suits and clients are asking for it," says Silverman.
Specialized practice groups include Ogilvy Earth, Impact, specialized communications, crisis and issues management, and health policy.
The practices that showed strong growth in the US last year are 360° Digital Influence, healthcare, public affairs and government relations, and social marketing. The corporate and technology practices posted "a good amount of growth" from global accounts. Entertainment reported the least growth.
New clients include the Lance Armstrong Foundation, ProChile, SunPower, Special Olympics, MTS, Zebra, Chevron, National Cancer Institute, Virgin America, CSC, T.J. Maxx/Marshalls, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Welsh Lamb, NexCen Brands, Embratur Brazilian Tourism Board, and Molson Coors.
The firm reported 30% growth in the amount of multimarket client wins in 2008 and expanded the Unilever, LexisNexis, Nestlé, and Ford accounts into new markets and digital.
Ogilvy lost the Select Comfort business after the company reviewed its agencies. It also lost Adecco.
About 25% of the firm's clients are on a retainer.
Ogilvy cited the Sarbanes-Oxley Act when asked to disclose financial figures for 2008. It reported that US revenue falls between $100 million and $200 million, and global revenue between $200 million and $300 million – both of which grew 10% to 15% over the previous year.
Principal: Marcia Silverman, CEO
Ownership: The WPP Group
Subsidiary agencies: Ogilvy Government Relations, Feinstein Kean Healthcare
Offices: Nine US wholly owned and 65 globally wholly owned, plus 20 partly owned globally
Revenue: US, between $100 million and $200 million; global, between $200 million and $300 million