Campaign Interactive: Profile - Richard Pinder and Marcus Vinton/O&M’s Pinder and Vinton bring old and new worlds together/These two are busy putting together OgilvyInteractive, Francesca Newland writes

Before Christmas a story was leaked to Campaign that both Ogilvy & Mather’s managing director, Richard Pinder, and its creative director, Marcus Vinton, were leaving the agency to run OgilvyInteractive.

Before Christmas a story was leaked to Campaign that both Ogilvy &

Mather’s managing director, Richard Pinder, and its creative director,

Marcus Vinton, were leaving the agency to run OgilvyInteractive.



The story had important implications for both the advertising and

digital worlds in the UK. For the first time we were seeing senior

advertising executives take their skills into the interactive arena.



As Pinder puts it: ’You could portray the advertising community as a

cluster of penguins standing at the edge of a cliff wanting to jump into

the water but afraid that a killer whale might get them. It takes the

first penguin to go in and prove to the others that there is no killer

whale.’



For Vinton, it was about taking the lead already established by business

where executives have had the dotcom bug for some time. ’The advertising

industry is reactive. In leading businesses, chief executives are

migrating to dotcoms. In advertising, no major creatives or account

handlers are jumping in,’ he says.



Pinder and Vinton believe they have a market advantage by being the

first senior admen to join the UK digital arena. They can take their

knowledge of branding and apply it to new media.



Vinton, who will retain responsibility for some Ogilvy ad accounts,

stresses that it is not about a change of career or jumping on to the

digital ’brand wagon’, but a change in the number of communication

channels available.



Some might ask if the two have anything different to offer. Vinton is

convinced their knowledge and experience of brands makes them better

placed than others to succeed in the race for what he calls

’hyperliteracy’.



This is not about abandoning the old, it is about embracing the new.



They are taking contacts with existing O&M clients with them. Pinder,

who moved to O&M from Grey in early 1997, has always stuck very close to

large, lumbering accounts, including Unilever, Procter & Gamble and

Nestle.



These global giants are starting to realign their marketing budgets

towards new media. The moves by P&G, with its Reflect.com beauty brand,

and Unilever, with Wowgo.com and iVillage.com, highlight this move

further.



Vinton has been active in new media for some time, but together the

pair’s interest dovetailed in 1998 when O&M won the account for Open,

the digital television broadcaster. The pair saw how their branding

know-how and good contacts would be an advantage in the digital arena.

They also persuaded Van den Bergh, a division of Unilever, to hand the

agency its interactive account.



At first, the talk was of a start-up, but then they were offered the

OgilvyInteractive helm and the promise of a war chest to build the

agency into a serious UK player. With that there was the security of

knowing how seriously WPP, O&M’s parent company, and its chief

executive, Martin Sorrell, takes digital media.



’Martin is a visionary. He’s prepared to invest and he understands our

equity. If you’re in WPP and want to make an acquisition that will add

to the service, Martin and the crew will take it seriously,’ Vinton

says.



Both believe that, to date, digital is lacking creative and branding

excellence. Pinder believes the web world has not yet gone creative.



’If you put British Airways on the web, you wouldn’t be competing with

Lufthansa but with Amazon. Brand owners have to ask themselves how a

brand lives in this world.’



Although they are very different people - Pinder is rarely out of a

suit, Vinton rarely in one - the two complement each other. Pinder has a

pragmatic approach to problems and a strict regard for order. Vinton has

a passion for all things digital. Both are workaholics. Each

acknowledges and admires the other’s approach.



’For many sceptics, interactive TV is still underwhelming, and they are

right. It’s more inactive than interactive, but so was the internet

three years ago, and look at it now,’ Vinton says.



Internal politics following the leaked story has, so far, delayed the

finalisation of details for the relaunch of OgilvyInteractive. The

agency was formed last June when OgilvyOne acquired the new-media

company, Noho Digital. It already has around 70 people, but the

appointment of Pinder and Vinton should mark the start of some rapid

growth.



They are in an enviable position, running a cash-backed company in an

arena which is about to take off, but it has taken guts to get

there.



It is their total belief that their expertise and contacts will offer

something new to digital that is driving them. It will be interesting to

observe if other senior advertising figures follow suit.



Vinton says: ’It is vital to adapt our thinking beyond the conventional,

otherwise we will see our business slowly eroded or swept aside by the

diversified, seductive talents of quicker thinking organisations that

have already reacted to new areas of specialisation such as the

internet, wireless application protocol and interactive TV.’



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