The appointment of Paul Simons to haul the Ogilvy Group in the UK
out of its malaise is not quite the hospital pass it first appears.
Although the patient has been haemorrhaging some large accounts, not to
mention being rendered dizzy and destabilised by recent management
traumas, it is possible that it can still be returned to rude good
The fact that the industry’s worst-kept secret is out and Simons is in
command, as chairman of the Ogilvy Group, is a positive beginning. That
alone should help reduce some of the insecurity and paranoia which has
debilitated the agency.
That’s not to underplay the scale of Simons’ task.
The loss of lead agency status on Ford of Europe has been a devastating
financial blow, while the departures of Bupa, Guinness and the Woolwich
- the latter after more than 70 years - will have had a crushing effect
on both the bottom line and staff morale.
Reviving the latter must be Simons’ priority. A good start would be to
end O&M’s exile in Canary Wharf. Any hopes that Docklands would become
the new ad village have long gone and, by remaining there, the group
will have difficulty attracting potential talent.
Just as high on the agenda has to be the building of a well-blended
group of senior executives who are united and focused. The ironic fact
is that, for inspiration, Simons probably needs to look no further than
Young & Rubicam.
Brought low by internal strife and account losses, Y&R now has a
management team that has reaped the benefits of pulling together in
order to install the fighting spirit, culminating in its spectacular
raid on O&M’s Ford business.
At least Simons steadies the ship safe in the knowledge that the O&M
network, with its solid base of blue-chip clients, is there for support.
Bates Dorland, which still awaits a decent bit of referred business from
the US, no doubt wishes it was as lucky.