Ownership: WPP Group (part of Ogilvy & Mather)
Offices: Global: 85 majority/wholly owned; US: 9
Revenue: Global: $250 million to $300 million; US: $100 million to $150 million
Headcount: Global: 2,100; US: 600
Ogilvy posted significant gains last year with US revenue up about 25% compared to 11% the prior year and global revenue climbing 15% compared to 7% in 2010.
Chris Graves, global CEO, attributes the success to the basics. "This wasn't a crazy Hail Mary pass, just sound management and slogging it out on the ground," he says.
Significant growth pockets in Europe reflect efforts over the last 18 months to hire senior executives and relocate personnel to underperforming areas. Talent charged with bolstering European business included Stuart Smith, who joined last February as MD of the global corporate practice based in London, and Sandra Saias, who transferred from the firm's Chicago office to become MD of strategy and planning, EMEA.
"We started to make an investment in talent that had rapid payoff in areas including digital, where we won the BP Olympics sponsorship account for what had been a weak, small office in London," says Graves.
The agency grew its top 30 clients by 20% and multi-office base by 40%. Key global wins included the Mexico Tourism Board, BMC Software, beverage brand Diageo in Europe, and Carnival Cruises in Asia-Pacific.
US operating profit was up close to 40%. Client wins included retailer Gap, its rebid for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and expanded work for the Centers for Disease Control. Midyear, the firm lost Unilever accounts Slim-Fast and Bertolli. Later in the year, it lost TJX Companies.
Last year, Graves saw a notable increase around crisis and content-creation work, citing two clients, Ford and BP, in particular. Ogilvy created more than 100 slice-of-life employee mini movies that garnered 10 million views on YouTube for BP, which "came to understand how important social media is when there isn't a crisis," he adds.
Ogilvy's US consumer practice experienced significant executive turnover in the last two years. Samantha Allen was relocated to New York from Ogilvy's Australian operations to head the global consumer practice in mid-2010, but left in late September 2011.
In April 2012, Mitch Markson, a 21-year veteran of Edelman, was named president of Ogilvy's global consumer marketing practice and chief creative officer for purpose branding, two newly created posts. In March, 3% of the New York staff was laid off.
Earlier this year, parent agency Ogilvy & Mather launched Social@Ogilvy, a group of 550 social media specialists from across the firm's businesses and serving 35 markets. The unit is led by global MD John Bell, who most recently headed Ogilvy PR's 360 Digital Influence practice, which has been folded into Social@Ogilvy. It will provide social media marcomms to an initial slate of clients including IBM, Nestlé, and Ford. "Social@Ogilvy will be our Knights of the Round Table," says Graves, "formalizing work together without squashing individual expertise."
Graves is eyeing China and India for acquisitions in the financial and healthcare sector. Last year, Ogilvy acquired a majority stake in Hong Kong-based healthcare communications firm Mind Resource. Its healthcare subsidiary Feinstein Kean moved over to Ogilvy & Mather.