Until now Ogilvy PR Worldwide has remained a relatively small
player in Europe, with 25 staff in London, 20 in Brussels and two in
Paris. This contrasts with their four office, 300-plus staff, in the US,
and 16 offices in Asia. One of the factors which has held the agency
back in the last year has been its lack of either a London managing
director or a European president, a situation which was finally resolved
with the appointment of former B-M managing director Paul Philpotts last
The agency now has a chance to tackle one of the major issues facing the
international players in the PR industry this decade - finding the best
way to service big global clients. The challenge has seen some agencies,
such as Burson-Marsteller, adopting a practice structure, and others,
like the Weber Group, on a global spending spree to expand its network
Ogilvy is joining the race at a fairly late stage and Philpotts has a
daunting task ahead. He puts it simply: ’My brief is to work out how we
build our capacity across Europe’.
His boss, international president and chief executive Bob Seltzer, hopes
that structures will be in place by the end of the year.
Fiona Driscoll, chief executive of the UK office until she was made
redundant last January, warns: ’Building a European network will be a
major task which can only be achieved if WPP gives adequate financial
Ogilvy PR moved to unify its brand internationally in January by
abbreviating its name from Ogilvy Adams and Rinehart. The OA&R name was
used in the US and Europe, following the acquisition of financial agency
Adams and Rinehart in 1992, but was never applied to the agency’s Asian
Now all offices go under the same name.
In growing the network, there are a number of options for Philpotts to
consider. Acquisition is a serious one, and he is gearing up to do some
heavy recruiting. And, confusingly, Ogilvy PR has a sister agency within
its WPP parent group, Ogilvy and Mather PR - a separately run offshoot
of the Ogilvy and Mather advertising agency. The Ogilvy and Mather PR
offices report to the O&M advertising managers in each country. The
network has offices in Spain, the Czech Republic, Russia and Austria,
which grew up in the local market places as the advertising agency
wanted to offer an integrated communications approach.
Neither Seltzer nor Philpotts are exactly clear how those resources can
be used to help the task they face. ’Ogilvy and Mather advertising has
offices where it doesn’t have a PR capacity and we will talk about how
we can work with them, even if it’s on an interim basis,’ says
Ogilvy PR has set the precedent to follow that pattern, establishing
itself in Brussels from the O&M advertising springboard. Since Seltzer’s
arrival at Ogilvy last June, the agency has begun sharing resources and
information with the O&M PR offices.
Mike Walsh, chief executive of Ogilvy and Mather advertising, predicts
that new PR offices will be set up with equal reporting responsibility
to himself and Philpotts. ’As far as clients are concerned it’s a one
brand network,’ he says.
’We have to have a viable network of our own offices,’ says
He is concerned that neither of the Ogilvy PR networks have established
themselves in France, Germany and Italy.
’The aim is to build our own capacity in those key markets, but continue
to service local clients and clients outside those markets by using
local agencies,’ explains Philpotts. However, he is also keen to build a
strong presence in London as ’it’s the market where the majority of
Seltzer admits that there are some serious gaps in the European
’Health is a missing piece in Europe right now,’ he says. ’And the
marketing side - we haven’t being doing enough of that in London.’
He suggests that consumer marketing is an area that the Ogilvy and
Mather PR offices could be particularly useful in, because of their
strength in ’brand stewardship’.
Ogilvy PR also has a history of using local agencies, and acting as a
co-ordinator through its ’best practice’ system, which Seltzer describes
as the agency’s willingness to be flexible to the client’s needs.
’No agency is going to have expertise in every market - so you find who
is good and bring them to the table,’ he insists.
Seltzer cites the decision last year by database giant Oracle to appoint
the joint team of Ogilvy, Hill and Knowlton and US hi-tech specialist
Cunningham, as evidence of the agency’s flexibility.
Another example is Ogilvy’s relationship with IBM. It has been
co-ordinating a 20-strong roster of agencies for IBM in Europe, the
Middle East and Africa since 1995. While one industry source says the
IBM model is becoming a benchmark for the way big companies want to run
their PR, cynics say the best practice model is a way for agencies to
gloss over not having a network.
But it might be possible for Philpotts to learn from the experiences of
other large agencies. As he points out, he can build the agency to be
what Ogilvy wants it to be. ’We haven’t got to worry about
restructuring,’ says Philpotts - instead his job will be to build a
structure from scratch.