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Ogilvy Group (US)

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Ogilvy Group - the "& Mather" tag has been phased out - is one of the lead marketing networks housed within marketing giant WPP. The agency was originally created in 1948 by British-born advertising legend David Ogilvy, virtually from scratch, and its subsequent success established Ogilvy himself as one of the industry's most influential and recognisable ambassadors. More than two decades after his death, his photograph and words of wisdom still regularly adorn the network's promotional material. The Ogilvy Group now offers an extensive range of marketing services beyond traditional advertising, having established a collection of partner groups including below-the-line network OgilvyOne, healthcare specialist Ogilvy CommonHealth, PR agency Ogilvy Public Relations and others. It was in fact arguably the first advertising agency to offer a fully integrated global service, for which it coined the term "360 Degree Brand Stewardship". In keeping with that guiding concept it rebundled almost all of those different satellite units back into the main agency during 2017 to provide a seamless all-round service under a single Ogilvy banner.


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Ogilvy scores highly in several areas. It has a strong reputation for account handling, for creativity, and for integrated services, backed up by an extensive global network which has few weak regions. Despite these strengths, it sits in the second tier of global networks by billings, preferring to concentrate its attentions on a relatively compact portfolio of major multinational accounts. In 2004, the group stated that its 20 biggest clients accounted between them for more than half of worldwide revenues.

At its peak, the Ogilvy Group claimed to operate 497 separate offices in 171 cities worldwide, giving it a huge global footprint. The reintegration of most of its separate marketing services satellites since 2017 has compressed that footprint. As of late 2019 there were 132 offices in 83 countries. Ogilvy was one of the first major networks to present a fully integrated offering to clients, under the heading of "360 Degree Brand Stewardship". This promises a smooth transition for clients from traditional above-the-line advertising to more specialised disciplines offered by the group's subsidiary agencies. As a result, the Ogilvy Group division now derives around a third of its revenues from traditional advertising. For 2018, Advertising Age estimated combined worldwide revenues from marketing services of $1.95bn.

Creatively, the group has been performing very strongly in recent years. In 2016, it was named Network of the Year at the Cannes Lions festival for the fifth consecutive year, winning 123 Lion awards. (BBDO pipped it to the top in 2017). In 2013, it was the first network ever to win more than 100 Lion awards, with a grand haul of 155 trophies. For 2016, the Big Won creative rankings, calculated from all competitions during the year, placed Ogilvy as the #2 network behind BBDO. Memac Ogilvy Dubai was the single most awarded outpost, and Ogilvy South Africa also featured among the Top 20 Agencies. Adweek named Ogilvy its Global Agency of the Year for 2016, citing the "smooth transition of power" - as departing CEO Miles Young handed over to John Seifert - "coupled with a breadth of award-winning work." Underpinning the agency's outpot is its so-called "Twin Peaks" operating philosophy which aims to establish creativity and effectiveness as the dual goals for every campaign on which it works.

Ogilvy's most important market is of course the US, where the main agency has five main offices across the country (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta), supported by a collection of subsidiary outlets. Among these is the local outpost of British agency The & Partnership, which operates in New York as a joint venture with Ogilvy. Advertising Age estimated US revenues of $729m for Ogilvy in 2018 (or 31% of the global total). Ogilvy Canada has a further four outposts including the Marketing Communication Group in Ontario, acquired in 2004.

There are offices spread across Latin America and Europe (not least Ogilvy London). Ogilvy has self-branded outposts in virtually every major market, but in a handful it operates in partnership with other WPP-owned agencies. One such country is Sweden, where Ogilvy and Grey jointly own Stockholm agency Ingo. Ogily has a strong presence in three important developing markets. One of its key territories is China. It was among the first Western agencies to establish a presence there, opening an office in Beijing in 1986. In 1991 it established a presence in Shanghai through a partnership with Shanghai Advertising, and later opened offices in Guangzhou and other cities. In 2004 it became the first Western agency to spread its wings outside China's main cities by acquiring a 51% stake in Fujian Effort, the largest independent agency in the eastern Chinese province of Fujian. That agency is now Effort Ogilvy. The group acquired a 49% holding in Beijing Raynet advertising in 2006. It now operates around 25 separate outposts in seven cities. With many years of experience in this market, Ogilvy is widely considered to be one of the country's best agencies. It was awarded the top rating of any local agency for 2009 by local trade magazine China advertising.

There are also strong subsidiaries in India and Brazil, and it took over management control of South Korean agency Diamond Ad in 2004, now rebranded as Diamond Ogilvy. In 2012, it was the first Western network to establish a presence in Myanmar (the former Burma), with the acquisition of a shareholding in local agency Today advertising. In the wider Asia Pacific region, the group was until recently supported by another mini-network operating under the brandname David (a reference to David Ogilvy). It was absorbed into the group's other regional subsidiary Bates Asia in 2007. However the David brand was relaunched in Latin America at the end of 2011, and now operates as an increasingly important second string to the main agency in the region, with offices in Brazil and Argentina. There is also an office in the US in Miami. The main agency in Brazil is also one of the local leaders, #4 by billings in 2016, according to researcher IBOPE.

Ogilvy was traditionally represented in Australia under license by local marketing conglomerate STW Group, which also managed the down under operations of JWT. WPP acquired majority control of STW at the end of 2015, and merged its operations with other WPP units in the region to form WPP AUNZ. In the Middle East it operates through MEMAC Ogilvy, a group of agencies headquartered in Lebanon but active in 10 local markets. Ogilvy increased its shareholding from 40% to over 50% in 2014. Ogilvy is also the biggest advertising network in Africa with 49 offices spread across 31 countries throughout the continent, anchored by Ogilvy South Africa.

Sitting behind the main agency until recently were two separate but linked global marketing networks. However, in early 2017, Ogilvy announced plans to re-absorb most of its unbundled satellite networks into the main agency, which will henceforward operate under a single Ogilvy banner, and a shared P&L. The first territory to undergo that transformation in the US, and a similar process will be rolled out gradually from 2018 onwards. OgilvyOne had specialised in digital and direct marketing and CRM, with offices in virtually all outposts of the main agency. In most cases there was already no clear separation between the two brands, or indeed between OgilvyOne's own subsidiary units, which included what was previously Ogilvy Interactive. OgilvyInteractive:Media, the group's online marketing arm was merged in 2003 into mOne Worldwide, a joint venture with Mindshare, and search marketing unit, mSearch, was launched in 2005. However mOne was dismantled at the beginning of 2006, with MindShare and OgilvyOne each taking back direct control of their respective clients. The OgilvyOne digital media unit was renamed Neo@Ogilvy, with a network that spreads across some 40 countries, offering all forms of digital media including mobile and search marketing. In 2017, it was transferred out of Ogilvy and under the wing of Mindshare under a newly created Mindshare Performance Group.

In Japan, the group formed a partnership with local online agency Nikko Inc to create, plan and buy online advertising. It too operates under the Neo@Ogilvy banner. The agency also operates selected specialist subsidiaries such as loyalty marketing agency Lacek Group and direct response TV agency Eicoff. In 2006, the group acquired North American business marketing specialist Leopard. The network claims to derive half of its revenues from global accounts, and half from local business. Key global clients include American Express, IBM, Unilever and Nestle. A separate global network offering sales promotion and activation was known until 2013 as Ogilvy Action. That year the business was merged with sister network G2 to create what is now Geometry Global.

OgilvyRED is the group's strategic management consultancy division. In 2008, Ogilvy teamed up with WPP stablemate GroupM to launch Ogilvy Entertainment, a branded entertainment unit run as a joint venture with GroupM Entertainment, which creates brand-funded entertainment content for shared clients such as Unilever, IBM and American Express. Redworks was until 2015 the group's global production and implementation network. That year it was absorbed into a joint venture with WPP's central Hogarth business to form Hogarth & Ogilvy or H&O.

Ogilvy's PR division (formerly Ogilvy Adams Rinehart) is one of the top 10 global PR networks, with offices in more than 60 cities around the world. Industry watcher PRovoke estimated fee income of $345m in 2019. It no longer operates as a separate business but as a fully integrated arm of the merged Ogilvy group. (There are a handful of exceptions, notably in Australia where what is now OPR operates as a separate standalone entity alongside the local Ogilvy agency). It provides strategic public relations counsel to a variety of clients in six main practices of consumer marketing, corporate, healthcare, technology, public affairs and social marketing. In 2010, the group launched a new practice, Ogilvy Noor, a global branding consultancy which guides clients on ways of building their appeal among Muslim consumers. The agency also has an entertainment practice led by subsidiary BWR Public Relations, offers biotechnology expertise through Feinstein Kean Healthcare and government affairs support through Ogilvy Government Relations. The company strengthened its position in China and Japan in 2002 with the acquisition of H-Line Public Relations, one of China's top domestic public relations firms, and a stake in leading Japanese PR agency PRAP. Ogilvy PR also owns design agency CB'a, active in several Western European markets.

Virtually the only satellite network not reabsorbed into the central Ogilvy entity was Ogilvy CommonHealth. This is one of the world's biggest healthcare marketing groups, formed in 2010 from the merger of Ogilvy Healthworld - inherited as part of WPP's acquisition of Bates Worldwide - with separately acquired CommonHealth. Ogilvy Commonhealth now forms part of a new WPP Health & Wellness entity, and will continue to retain separate branding.


Miles Young stepped down as CEO of Ogilvy & Mather at the beginning of 2016 after eight years as leader and some 35 altogether at Ogilvy. His successor was John Seifert, another long-serving executive, previously chairman of Ogilvy North America. He became CEO with immediate effect and took over the chairman role in October when Young departed to take up an academic role at Oxford University. In 2020, Seifert announced his intention to retire as soon as a successor can be found. Andy Main was poached from Deloitte Digital to become Ogilvy's new CEO. Devika Bulchandani was recruited from McCann to become CEO Ogilvy North America and chair, global advertising.

Other senior officers at head office include Steve Goldstein (CFO), Lauren Crampsie (worldwide chief marketing officer & president Ogilvy NY), Ben Richards (chief strategy officer) and Lou Aversano was appointed as global chief client officer in 2019. Following the reconsolidation of Ogilvy's various satellite units into the main agency, there are also three main disciplinary leaders: Adam Tucker (global leader advertising), Carla Hendra (CEO, consulting & chief digital officer) and Brian Fetherstonhaugh (global leader customer engagement & commerce).

Global CCO Tham Kai Meng was dismissed in summer 2018 over allegations of inappropriate behaviour. His successor was eventually named as industry veteran Piyush Pandey, also chairman of Ogilvy India. Ogilvy USA's Joe Sciarotta was named as deputy global CCO and was replaced in his former role by Leslie Sims, who transferred from what is now VMLY&R. However, Sims moved on at the beginning of 2020 as part of a general restructuring of the US leadership team.

Other regional leaders include Paul O'Donnell (CEO, EMEA), Kent Wertime (CEO, Asia), Horacio Genolet (CEO Latin America), Kunal Jeswani (CEO, India), Fernando Musa (CEO, Brazil) and Leandro Berrone (CEO, South Latina).


David Ogilvy is generally regarded as the second most influential figure (after Bill Bernbach of Doyle Dane Bernbach) in the creative revolution which transformed American advertising during the 1960s. A brilliant adman as well as a relentless and unapologetic self-publicist, he was described in his heyday by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates as "the most spectacular man in the agency business today".

This Englishman abroad had drifted into New York's advertising industry almost by accident, launching his career at the comparatively advanced age of 38. Yet he quickly established himself as one of Madison Ave's most unusual and outspoken characters during the 1950s and 1960s, articulating an approach to advertising that remains enduringly influential to this day. Unlike Bernbach, whose work was most influenced by graphic design and New York's cultural melting pot, Ogilvy drew heavily on more traditional advertising styles. However, he created a melting pot of his own, blending together what had previously been considered to be conflicting styles to form a more impactful whole.

Although he always referred to himself as being Scottish, David Mackenzie Ogilvy was actually born just outside London in 1911 to a modest but upper middle class family. His parents were unusual and somewhat eccentric intellectuals, and their influence on their son was lasting. Ogilvy's father was a classical scholar whose business career had been notably unsuccessful, and young David was sent off to boarding school from the age of eight. Eventually, he won a scholarship to Oxford University, but was expelled soon afterwards for doing no work. Instead, he spent a year or two travelling around Europe, where he spent some time working in the kitchens of the Hotel Majestic in Paris. That position won him a job back home as a salesman for Aga cooking stoves, largely because the company needed someone able to pitch its products in French to chefs at London's top hotels. For Aga, he also turned his hand to marketing for the first time, composing an extremely effective sales brochure for the company. This in turn allowed Ogilvy to secure a junior position at the venerable London advertising agency Mather & Crowther, where his older brother Francis was a senior account manager.

With a heritage dating back to the mid-19th century, "Mather's" was one of Britain's most prestigious advertising companies. Originally founded in London's Fleet Street in 1850 by Edmund Mather, it became Mather & Crowther in 1888 when the founder's son Harley Mather recruited Herbert Crowther as his partner. But typically the restless Ogilvy bored quickly of this new life. A childhood obsession with America continued to fascinate him, and in 1938 he persuaded the agency to send him to America to learn US ad techniques at source. Freshly arrived in New York, the 27-year-old Ogilvy used his boyish charm to win introductions from colleagues, friends and family in Britain to a large social circle in New York. One such figure was Rosser Reeves, later to become the key proponent of "unique selling point" advertising at Ted Bates. At the time, Reeves was a copywriter at Blackett-Sample-Hummert. The two men became friends, and it was Reeves who first lent Ogilvy a copy of Claude Hopkins' enormously influential book Scientific advertising. Having devoured that text, Ogilvy also picked Reeves' brain of everything he already knew about American advertising, and later cemented their friendship by marrying Reeves' wife's sister.

At the end of his temporary placement, Ogilvy declined Mathers' invitation to return to London and instead secured a job as a researcher for George Gallup compiling national opinion surveys. This allowed him to travel the country for almost three years. His career in marketing was then interrupted by World War II. Ogilvy remained in America, serving in the military intelligence department of the British embassy in Washington. As soon as peace was declared, he then gave up all such traditional roles and moved instead with his wife and young son to a 100-acre rural farm in the heart of Amish country in Pennsylvania. Here he grew a full Amish beard and started afresh as a tobacco farmer. But the restless and impulsive Ogilvy was not cut out for the hard manual labour of farming, and quickly hankered after more challenging intellectual pursuits.

Throughout his period in America, he had kept in close contact with his brother Francis, who by 1947 had risen to the position of managing director of Mather & Crowther. That year, David Ogilvy proposed to both Mathers and another large British agency, SH Benson, that they jointly fund the creation of an American office which Ogilvy promised would be "a British advertising agency in New York". This seemed like a sensible gamble to the two London agencies, but both felt that Ogilvy himself lacked sufficient experience in the industry to run it. Instead, Anderson Hewitt, an executive who had worked at JWT and the J Sterling Getchell agency, was recruited as president. Ogilvy was given the title of vice-president in charge of research, and Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather opened its doors for business in September 1948.

Despite the other names in the title, Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather quickly turned into a one-man band. Hewitt brought with him the agency's first two American accounts, but he fell out with Ogilvy and left the business in 1952. Meanwhile Ogilvy managed a small coterie of Mathers and Benson's British clients, including Wedgwood China, Guinness and British Travel. Inevitably the agency's key asset turned out to be Ogilvy himself. As he later recalled in an interview with Ogilvy's inhouse magazine, "I had a terrific advantage... With so many agencies, so much competition, I'd got a gimmick - my English accent, which helped to differentiate me from the ordinary... There are an awful lot of English over there in advertising now, but in those days there were only about two of us."

Keenly aware of the attributes which made him stand out socially in New York, Ogilvy employed the same tactics on behalf of his clients, and this led to the creation of two campaigns which put the agency firmly on the map in America. The first was for The Hathaway Company, a small clothing firm from Maine which sold modestly priced tailored shirts. Seeking a gimmick which would resonate with readers of the magazines in which the ads would appear, Ogilvy came up with an idea of portraying the typical Hathaway customer as a romantic adventurer in the Hemingway or Faulkner mould, "a very real and interesting person, instead of a conventional dummy". He settled upon a distinguished looking acquaintance, a middle-aged Russian emigré by the name of George Wrangell, who claimed to be a member of the aristocracy and cultivated a splendidly photogenic moustache. To add to Wrangell's mystique, Ogilvy stopped off at a corner drugstore on the morning of the photo-shoot and on a whim bought a $1.50 eye patch for him to wear in the pictures. (Wrangell himself had perfect vision).

The first ad appeared in the Sept 22nd 1951 edition of The New Yorker magazine and caused a sensation, triggering an immediate increase in the sales of Hathaway's shirts. With a keen awareness of how to ride this interest, Ogilvy took the decision to limit all the advertising only to the New Yorker for four years, and began producing a new image each week in which "The Man in the Hathaway Shirt" tried his hand at a different sophisticated pastime, examining a Purdey shotgun, playing an oboe, painting a copy of a Goya masterpiece, conducting the New York Philharmonic. It eventually became a feature of the New Yorker for readers to see what the Hathaway Man was doing this week. Wrangell remained the centrepiece of the campaign for several years until he was replaced by other, similarly eyepatched models. The campaign finally ran out of steam after a quarter of a century in 1976.

The popular success of Hathaway inspired a similarly eye-catching campaign for Schweppes, then an obscure relic of the British empire, foist upon Ogilvy Benson & Mather by its British agency partners. According to one version of the story, it was the Schweppes chairman himself who encouraged a reinterpretation of Hathaway campaign, suggesting to Ogilvy that he use their advertising manager, Commander Edward Whitehead, as the central figure in the ads. Just like the Hathaway ads before them, the exotic appearance of the luxuriously bearded Commander, the "Man from Schweppes", gave the ads precisely the personality which Ogilvy was seeking. The double whammy of Hathaway and Schweppes secured Ogilvy's reputation.

A succession of similarly character-led campaigns followed: including a kilted Scotsman for Thom McAn shoes, and Tetley's "Mr Tea", in reality genuine taster Bert Dimes. Meanwhile David Ogilvy himself served as the equally effective "brand image" for his agency, an exotic, cosmopolitan and cultured figure in New York's otherwise humdrum advertising fraternity. By the end of 1953, just five years after the agency opened its doors, trade magazine Printers Ink gushed that Ogilvy's "place among the great advertising writers of all time is practically assured".

By now, Ogilvy's relationship with his brother-in-law Rosser Reeves had turned into an often bitter rivalry. Instead he sought out a new mentor, getting in touch with retired legend Raymond Rubicam, and commencing a long correspondence and friendship. He began to develop a new idea to establish Benson Ogilvy & Mather "in the great Y&R tradition – a tradition which defies stereotypes, but does so with perfect manners, and with no sacrifice of 'sell'". Ogilvy set out to construct "the most favourable image, the most sharply defined personality" for clients, and to ensure consistency he compiled extensive and detailed guidelines for all new employees to follow. In 1957, Advertising Age paraphrased these rules for advertising rather more succinctly than even Ogilvy had done: "Include the brandname in the headline, don't try to be clever, avoid analogies and superlatives, write sentences of less than twelve words, make at least fourteen references to people per one hundred words, avoid humorous copy, use photographs instead of artwork".

By the mid 1950s, Benson Ogilvy & Mather was one of the most talked-about agencies in New York. Yet for all the admiration bestowed upon the wit and refinement of his ads, the business remained small. By 1955, JWT's billings were $175m, Y&R was at $166m and even the other personality driven agency Leo Burnett was just under $70m. Yet Benson Ogilvy & Mather was still scraping along with billings of less than $12m. Despite Ogilvy's claim in 1958 to be "the biggest agency founded since 1948", it was even overtaken that year by Doyle Dane Bernbach, which had opened its doors a year after Ogilvy in 1949.

One problem was that the agency had quickly become typecast for handling aspirational brands, packaging comparatively ordinary products as exclusive or out-of-the-ordinary. This was not an approach that worked well beyond a few select brands. By 1956, Ogilvy had managed to secure clients like Dove soap and Maxwell House coffee, but it was still pigeonholed as shop which specialised in "snob appeal". In 1957, the agency secured another carriage trade icon in the form of Rolls-Royce. Ogilvy initially turned the account down on his partners' advice because it would encourage further typecasting, but Rolls Royce was so determined to place its business with Ogilvy that it improved its terms. Ogilvy could hardly refuse, especially since the win of Rolls-Royce would further strengthen the parallels with early Y&R, who had held the account in the 1930s when it too was a comparatively new start-up. For Rolls-Royce, Ogilvy crafted another timeless classic, which promised "At 60 miles per hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock". Like Hathaway and Schweppes, the large photographic image and headline were accompanied by densely packed, detailed, almost scientific, "reason why" copy. It was another big critical success for the agency, but commercially it was, as Ogilvy's partners had warned him, comparatively insignificant. Billings were little more than $250,000 a year, and in 1961, Ogilvy resigned the account.

The agency's billings gradually began to improve in the latter half of the 1950s as it picked up larger clients including American Express, and the first national campaign for Sears Roebuck. The clincher came when Shell moved its entire North American account from JWT to O&M in 1960, virtually doubling the agency's billings to $50 million. Ogilvy opened its first international office in Toronto to service the account. In 1963 Ogilvy wrote the book Confessions of an advertising Man, describing the first years of the agency and expounding his style, which favoured large amounts of fact-heavy explanatory copy. Ogilvy's timing couldn't have been better, as advertising was then coming under intense scrutiny from the business world in general. Against all expectations, the book sold 400,000 copies, becoming an international bestseller and the best-selling account of the industry ever published. Clients too were attracted by the publicity generated for the agency, and billings rose steadily in its wake.

In 1964, Ogilvy's brother Francis died. Under his management, latterly as chairman, Mather & Crowther had established a reputation as one of London's top two or three agencies. For more than 20 years, its large creative department was run by Stanhope "Shelly" Shelton, a legendary figure of the British industry, who had overseen a series of enormously popular generic television campaigns for the government, promoting healthier eating ("Drinka Pinta Milka Day" or "Go To Work On An Egg") and for utilities such as coal and gas. Other clients included Schweppes (for whom it had introduced a long-running, James Bond-influenced campaign under the slogan "Schhh... you know who!") and Player's cigarettes. The London agency had also assembled a wide-ranging international network, with outposts as far afield as Asia. Eight months after his brother's death, David Ogilvy engineered a merger of Ogilvy Benson & Mather in New York with the London agency, adopting the abbreviated name of Ogilvy & Mather for the resulting business. That arrangement also catapulted the company into the rankings of top ten agencies worldwide, with combined billings now topping $130m. The fledgling empire went public the following year.

Funding allowed international growth to flourish, and by the time Ogilvy retired to France in 1973, the agency was established as one of the giants of the ad industry. It had also begun to expand, buying a number of secondary agencies including in 1976 the admired New York creative shop Scali McCabe Sloves. The latter became the base for a second-string international network, which acquired a number of agencies in Europe, including a majority stake in Abbott Mead Vickers of the UK in 1979. (For a while it also owned another London agency, Davidson Pearce, later part of BMP). The main O&M brand also diversified, adding additional marketing services arms including Ogilvy & Mather Public Relations in 1980 and the Electronic Marketing Needs division in 1984 (later to become Ogilvy Interactive).

In 1989 the group was bought by WPP for $864m, becoming a second cornerstone to Martin Sorrell's growing marketing empire, alongside JWT. Ogilvy was initially outraged, referring to Sorrell in an interview in the Financial Times as "that odious little shit". However, their relationship later improved, and Ogilvy agreed to return to the agency as as non-executive chairman until 1992. He remained in regular contact with the agency he built until his death in July 1999.

Meanwhile, in 1994, Ogilvy & Mather had made history by winning what was then the biggest ever consolidation of a brand account, when IBM shifted its advertising out of 40 different agencies around the world and placed it all with O&M. In 1997, Rochelle "Shelly" Lazarus was appointed as CEO, becoming the first woman to run a major worldwide ad agency network. (In January 2009, she passed over the CEO role to Miles Young, formerly chairman of O&M Asia Pacific. Lazarus retired as group chairman in July 2012, although she retains the title of chairman emeritus.)

In 1998 O&M's Australian arm merged with local agency the Singleton Group to form Singleton, Ogilvy & Mather, operating in Australia and New Zealand. It also took an initial 20% stake in Memac, a network of eight agencies in the Middle East. Late in 1999 O&M triumphed over a group of its rivals to win the consolidated global account for oil giant BP Amoco, worth $200m in billings. O&M resigned the $40m US account for rival Shell in order to take the business.

The agency's UK office was plagued by management problems in the late 1990s, and then again in 2002 after the ousting of local management. At around the same time, the US agency became involved in an embarrassing wrangle with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Having awarded its drug prevention account to O&M in 1999, the government later initiated a civil and criminal investigation over the agency's billings procedures after a disgruntled ex-Ogilvy employee alleged fraud. The agency was fully cleared of the charges, but paid the government $1.8m in reimbursement and damages in early 2002. Many were surprised when O&M retained the account a few months later after a review. However, the controversy refused to go away. In 2003 the account was under pressure once again, with the introduction of a Senate bill designed to shift a chunk of policy and marketing control of ONDCP to pressure group The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The agency was subsequently informed that its contract to handle the account would not be renewed when it expires in September 2004. (The account eventually went to FCB).

More dramatically, at the start of the year the US Attorney filed charges against two senior O&M executives for scheming to overcharge the government during the original contract. Shona Seifert (the wife of John Seifert, now Ogilvy North America chairman) had been head of the agency's New York office in 1999, when the fraud was alleged to have taken place (she subsequently left to run TBWA New York). Thomas Early was Ogilvy New York's finance head. Both vehemently denied the charges, but other O&M executives were also charged and pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Seifert and Early in exchange for lenient sentencing for themselves. The agency itself was not charged, having already voluntarily disclosed discrepancies and settled with the government. Seifert and Early's trial commenced in February 2005, with several Ogilvy staff alleging that the pair had pressured them to pad timesheets, apparently in order to make up a $3m shortfall in the income they budgeted to generate for Ogilvy from the ONDCP account. After two weeks of evidence, a jury found Seifert and Early guilty on all counts. In July 2005, Early was sentenced to 14 months in jail, followed by a two year probation, and a $10,000 fine; Seifert received 18 months and a $125,000 fine.

Last full revision 30th January 2019

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