Editorial: O&M can look forward to interesting times ahead

To suggest that the Ogilvy Group wasn't exactly spoiled for choice when it picked Miles Young to succeed Shelly Lazarus as its global chief executive is not to be disrespectful.

The boss of Ogilvy & Mather's Asia-Pacific operations has not only extensive experience in all the major marcoms disciplines, but has honed it across a broad range of international markets. Managers like Young are far from abundant. He has selected himself and, in doing so, has shown how seismic the shift has been in the global communication landscape since Lazarus took charge of O&M 11 years ago.

At that time, the fact Lazarus had built her reputation in the US considerably strengthened her hand over other contenders for the job. This was understandable. Although O&M's biggest clients were global advertisers, the US was their most important market and their spiritual home.

However, such a US-centric view of the world becomes less sustainable as huge new markets emerge, most notably in China and the Indian sub-continent, where Young has been instrumental in building O&M's presence. Not only has he turned a rather sleepy region into one in which bright local talent has gradually supplanted expat senior staff, but also where truly integrated offerings are emerging.

Whether Young can extend this across the network remains to be seen, but signs are promising. He's steeped in O&M's culture and he can draw satisfaction from what's been going on in London. For the time being, though, he may have to focus his attention elsewhere. New York, which ought to be the network's pacesetter, has - in the words of one onlooker - been "well south of dynamic" in recent times. This may have something to do with Lazarus' style. Her forte is client service. Nothing wrong with that. But agencies led by client service tend to focus on existing clients rather than seeking new ones.

Under Young, some of O&M's Asia-Pacific agencies have been transformed into the most creative in the network. Young himself has the impatience to succeed that's often found in bright and ambitious people.

Looks like O&M is about to live in interesting times.

Topics