Ogilvy UK PR leader Matt Buchanan takes up global role

Matt Buchanan has been appointed to the new post of global head of consumer PR, PRWeek has learned.

Ogilvy's new global head of consumer PR, Matt Buchanan
Ogilvy's new global head of consumer PR, Matt Buchanan

Matt Buchanan will report to Ogilvy PR’s global chief executive, Julianna Richter, leading consumer brand communications globally.

The move is part of an Ogilvy PR leadership restructure that will include a new corporate PR head as Richter shapes her global team.

Buchanan, who has led Ogilvy UK’s PR and Influence team since 2019, will continue to serve as an executive director of the Ogilvy PR business.

In 2020 Ogilvy grew its global PR revenue by seven per cent to $320m, and its headcount by 100 to 2,100. The results were less rosy in the UK market, where revenue is estimated to have declined by 13 per cent to £29m.

The global results indicate a recovery from the worst depths of COVID-19, a trading environment that Buchanan said has improved this year

“Ogilvy PR has got some real momentum at the minute under Julianna’s leadership and this was an exciting opportunity for me to step up and influence things at a global level,” Buchanan told PRWeek. “She is creating a new global structure and we have had an incredible start to 2021 with some huge global wins.”

He said his new role would involve spearheading innovation, driving global new business and making sure the global offer is algined across regions and seen through a consumer lens.

In some regions, such as the UK and Europe, Ogilvy’s PR skews more heavily consumer, although Buchanan says there is always scope to grow.

“Our ambition is to be known as a significant player in both consumer and corporate PR. In consumer, we are seeing a lot of momentum in the US, Asia and Australia. In a post-COVID-19 world we are really starting to see a lot of demand in the consumer brand space. There has been a lot more positivity in the market this year, with briefs coming through and clients feeling more optimistic,” he added.

The Ogilvy model is designed to ensure PR is joined up with Ogilvy's other divisions, including advertising, experience and digital. Buchanan said this has now matured and there is a healthy balance of new business leads coming from integrated marcomms briefs and those that are pure PR.

“What we're trying to do now under the leadership of [Ogilvy global CEO] Andy Main and Juliana is that Ogilvy is one agency, but there are also five business units and PR is one of them. It’s important to integrate when required, but we also want to be a strong standalone player in PR. It's about the best of both worlds,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan will continue to based in London at WPP's HQ at the Sea Containers building

‘A natural choice’

Buchanan’s consumer PR experience made him a standout candidate for the new global role.

The 25-year communications veteran brings decades of experience leading consumer PR agencies primarily in the UK and his native country, Australia.

Prior to Ogilvy, he was managing director of Havas’ One Green Bean, launching the agency in London in 2015 after running the Australian operation for four years. 

He has also served as managing director of Pulse Communications and held senior consumer roles at Red Consultancy and Lexis. Earlier in his career he worked at Bell Pottinger, Australian telco Telstra, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Buchanan’s global consumer experience ranges from CPG and retail to food and beverage, spirits, technology, digital commerce and health and wellness. 

He has worked with global brands including Walgreens Boots Alliance, HSBC, Bacardi, Unilever and Coca-Cola.

“Having successfully grown Ogilvy’s PR business in the UK by developing sophisticated, integrated communications programmes, Matt  is a natural choice to help us evolve our consumer brand offer globally,” Richter said. 

“Matt is a modern, visionary global leader, a growth driver, and a talent magnet who will innovate and elevate the work we do  for our clients.”

Buchanan will continue to be based in London.

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