Close-Up: Ogilvy looks in-house for an integrated solution

Guy Lambert is determined to give Ogilvy & Mather a 'face' within the industry and revive its creativity, Noel Bussey says.

Ogilvy & Mather's seven-month search for successor to the former chief executive Paul Jackson ended last week when the agency appointed Guy Lambert.

Lambert, who formerly ran OgilvyOne, will take over the day-to-day running of the agency, leaving his long-time partner, Mike Dodds, to take full control of its direct sister.

O&M's decision to make an internal appointment is described by Gary Leih, the chairman and chief executive, as the "Ogilvy way". He points to what happens when the agency looks elsewhere. "We tried it with Paul Simons and that didn't exactly work, did it?" he says of the infamous departure in 2002 of the O&M chief executive.

Lambert, who becomes the managing director, is described as a "strategic thinker", who "gets the attention of senior clients" and is "very much about integration". His appointment is in line with the 360-degree integrated strategy lauded by Leih since he arrived from South Africa a year ago.

Leih officially formed the Ogilvy Group UK in February this year by bringing together Ogilvy's 11 businesses. And though the group has been winning accounts with the integrated formula this year - Avis, easyJet and Chiquita Bananas have all come in - Lambert is aware the main creative agency still needs attention. He estimates 80 per cent of his priorities lie with O&M.

"You can't deliver a great 360- degree offering unless all the disciplines are strong. I don't think you can fudge or disguise it if one limb isn't working," he says.

With this he acknowledges that there is a perception in the industry that the main agency is creatively weak, struggling to win business and remains mainly faceless.

Bearing this in mind, he says his first few months will have to be spent facing inward, getting to know clients, his staff and the agency, but after that he will make a effort to get out into the industry.

"We must change that perception. We concentrate a lot on our brand and our clients' brands, but not on the agency's individuals. We need to do this, to start building some reputations. A significant amount has been done since Gary arrived, a lot of groundwork has been put in," Lambert says.

Dodds thinks Lambert's belief in the progress that has already been made at the agency group, his knowledge of the company and his passion for the creative work are his greatest strengths and will give him the edge he needs to successfully push O&M forward.

"Creatively, in the past couple of years, we haven't been as good as we could be, but that is really changing now," Lambert says. He pledges that the creative work coming through is "the best that's appeared in years", while Leih confidently declares that 2006 will be the best year in Ogilvy's illustrious history.

Bold claims indeed, and ones that Leih and his new managing director are going to have to work hard to make reality.