Social media's future will force disciplines to learn to get along

It was fitting Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide chose Social Media Week to announce the launch of an exciting and potentially groundbreaking venture to house its social media activities.

It was fitting Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide chose Social Media Week to announce the launch of an exciting and potentially groundbreaking venture to house its social media activities.

Social@Ogilvy is billed as a worldwide practice that will connect all of the WPP agency's social media experts to deliver solutions across every area of Ogilvy's business.

The social media unit, which evolved out of Ogilvy PR's 360 Digital Influence practice, will continue to be helmed by global MD John Bell, who reports to Chris Graves, global CEO of Ogilvy PR Worldwide, with a dotted line to Ogilvy & Mather's chief digital officer Brandon Berger.

Comprising an initial cohort of 550 people, the unit will work across all Ogilvy's marketing disciplines, including advertising, marketing, CRM, digital, SEO, and - of course - PR and communications. Initial clients include IBM, Nestlé, and Ford, but the practice area will also pitch for business in its own right.

It will prioritize measurement, data, business strategy, and a goal-oriented and global approach across owned, earned, and - yes - paid media, all in an integrated fashion.

The theory is that social media demands collaboration from all disciplines and can't be confined to one area, such as PR or advertising. Ogilvy highlights what it calls a "common culture" that spans the WPP agency as a distinct advantage against other networks in this respect.

Unlike Publicis Groupe's Vivaki unit, for instance, Social@Ogilvy has a distinct PR heritage and that will color the way it goes about things. Vivaki was born from the French-owned network's media and digital businesses, not its PR arm. It contains multiple agency networks under its umbrella, such as Starcom MediaVest, ZenithOptimedia, Digitas, and Razorfish.

Previous pages of PRWeek have included much analysis and speculation about the shape of the future agency network and the role of PR and social media within it. Significant questions remain about what the modern network will evolve into, but Social@Ogilvy might just provide a few clues as to what the smart PR firm should aspire to look like in the future. 

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