Ogilvy formalizes PR and influence leadership structure

Former U.S. lead Michele Anderson will not be replaced, nor will departed global leader Stuart Smith.

Ogilvy's John Seifert.
Ogilvy's John Seifert.

NEW YORK: Ogilvy is transitioning to a matrix-style management structure for the PR and influence segment of its One Ogilvy integrated strategy.

Several executives will step up to oversee the function, but there will not be formal leaders in the same way as before.

“We’re making a conscious decision not to have a single Ogilvy executive overseeing one capability, not just in PR and influence but in all of them,” said Ogilvy worldwide CEO John Seifert. “[Single exec leaders] signals to the company that we talk integration and capability but we’re still about individual silos.”

Ogilvy consolidated its global brands into a single integrated operating company in 2017. The WPP firm’s U.S. operations moved under one P&L rather than going to market as separate brands such as Ogilvy PR, Ogilvy & Mather and Ogilvy One.

U.S. PR and influence leader Michele Anderson exited Ogilvy in February to join Edelman in Chicago. Global PR leader Stuart Smith left the WPP firm in January 2019 to join Vegolutionary Foods as chief marketing and growth officer.

Seifert took on Smith's role and convened a dozen of his PR team in San Francisco to map out the next three years. At that time, he told PRWeek he expected to have a new global PR lead in place by the end of Q1 2019. 

But a replacement for Smith never transpired. In PR and influence, Scott Kronick has taken on some global responsibilities for client leadership and products and services in addition to his president and CEO role in Asia-Pacific.

Ogilvy U.K. CEO Michael Frohlich has a business leadership role for that market plus additional client leadership and product and service responsibilities. He is more involved in the agency’s Walgreens Boots account, working with location leader Cathy Francque in Chicago, where Anderson was based.

Health co-lead Kate Cronin has portfolio leadership and practice responsibility for multiple capabilities across health clients.

“For each function, we identified a mix of leadership roles we want to come together to represent the capability as a whole,” said Seifert.

Former Ogilvy PR global CEO Christopher Graves is extending his existing behavioral science consulting into a wider remit. He is also operating in the health sector and across other clients on innovation work.

“He’s almost becoming an R&D center for us,” explained Seifert.

The WPP firm has recruited or promoted talent to cover additional PR and influence client or regional needs.

Rachel Caggiano joined Ogilvy from sister creative firm VMLY&R last September as group MD in its Washington, DC, office. In New York, it’s a combination of SVP of media influence Tara Mullins, Shannon Walsh for health PR and Cronin.

San Francisco-based Dan La Russo is MD of Ogilvy West. Health specialist Lisa Gulledge is MD of Ogilvy Cambridge. Melissa Smith oversees a number of consumer assignments from New York. Cheryl Dunne leads employee engagement out of Denver, which Seifert described as a talent rather than a portfolio center.

“We’re trying to become flatter, and we’re spending the money at a location rather than executive level,” added Seifert. “People are double- or triple-hatted. They have a client role, a practice or product or service role and they’re part of a broader leadership group. It’s talent-centric, not executive-centric”

The PR and influence specialists either report to a geographical One Ogilvy leader, worldwide chief client officer Lou Aversano or directly to Seifert. Caggiano, La Russo, Gulledge and Cronin act as One Ogilvy region leads in their own right.

* This story was amended on 4/9 to clarify that Melissa Smith oversees consumer, not assignments.

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