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Ogilvy Group

Shelly Lazarus

Report by Shelly Lazarus

Chairman and chief executive officer

2007 was a year that tested us. It was a year that saw massive industry upheaval, waning consumer confidence and an increasingly uncertain global economy. Yet it was also a year where our founding belief in the power of big brand ideas was reaffirmed and rewarded.

2007 was a year in which most of our clients fully integrated digital media into their marketing plans. It was a year that saw mobile channels outgrowing traditional ones, as our digital revenues continued to grow faster than those of our traditional advertising business. It was a year when we brought digital, interactive, public relations, consumer experience and a range of other communications disciplines ever closer as we expanded our definition of advertising. It was a year during which we turned the corner into the future and saw the promise that lies ahead.

2007 was also the year that a 75-second film, created by our Toronto office for a small sales activation assignment, won an unprecedented double Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival, for best viral effort and best television commercial, and showed once again how outstanding creative remains our greatest goal and highest calling.

It was a year of honor for our offices around the world.

Ogilvy North America was named Best Large Agency of the Year by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, best direct marketing agency by BtoB magazine, and leading interactive agency by Forrester Research.

For the fourth consecutive year, Ogilvy Mexico was ranked No.1 among 120 agencies by the prestigious trade magazine Merca2.0. India walked away with the coveted Agency of the Year title at the Effie Awards, and won Creative Agency of the Year at the Abby Awards for the 10th time in 11 years. Singapore clinched the Agency of the Year accolade at the Creative Circle Awards, and won top honors in the advertising and interactive categories. Asia-Pacific was once again named Best in Region by Media magazine. Italy won big at the NC Awards, bringing home the top award for holistic, integrated marketing. London was named Best Direct Agency of the Year by Campaign magazine; Germany was named Best Online Agency of the Year by the Art Directors Club of Germany and Agency of the Year by the German Dialogue Marketing Awards; and our Toronto team was honored for strategic excellence by Strategy magazine.

Not only does our talent span borders, it goes across disciplines, too. Our Ogilvy Group operating companies had great growth and many accomplishments in 2007. Details are provided by the CEOs of the individual groups in their respective letters below, but I am proud to provide a summary.

OgilvyOne continues to grow revenues and capabilities. A long-term leader in customer engagement strategies and direct marketing, our interactive practice is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

We have increasingly put digital and direct efforts at the center of our clients' communications strategies, and OgilvyOne continues to bring us advantage by integrating new and emerging platforms into our offering.

Ogilvy Public Relations (OPR) had another excellent year with all practices firing on all cylinders. Public relations – whether via digital influence, government relations or traditional means – is at the heart of every brand these days. Our OPR team is leading the industry in integrating the increasingly voluminous global conversations in ways that have enormous value for the brands we represent.

Ogilvy Healthworld continued its strong growth in 2007. Now operating in 35 countries, our health communications team serves an increasing number of regional and global brands. This is a result of the centralization of marketing efforts by pharmaceutical companies, and of Ogilvy Healthworld's burgeoning range of capabilities. This is another area where we see outstanding expansion in the coming year.

OgilvyAction consolidated and relaunched in 2007. The group's core offer – influencing the last mile leading up to the sale – is increasingly important in the highly-competitive retail climate. OgilvyAction knows how to deliver this globally. I see only great growth here.

In addition to these operating units, we have integrated a number of other key capabilities into our portfolio. Two that merit specific mention are Neo@Ogilvy and RedWorks.

Two years ago, we founded Neo@Ogilvy to provide our clients with a full range of digital and direct media planning and buying, search marketing, research, and analytics. Neo has had extraordinary growth in the past year, becoming a global leader with 30 offices in 23 countries.

RedWorks is our rapid-response production team. As speed of delivery becomes more and more important, RedWorks has built an effective connection from our creative and brand community to a set of skilled craftsmen and producers. Since cost efficiency is as important as speed, many of our RedWorks personnel are located in lower-cost hubs around the world where they can produce high-quality communication materials at the best possible price. This is a solution to a client problem that benefits us both.

The one strength across the entire Ogilvy family that bears mention above all is our creativity. I have been here over three decades and have never seen our creative better or more focused on big ideas. Our teams keep coming up with – and extending – brand ideas that win awards and sell. Yes, the Dove campaign won more accolades than any brand last year, but we have had so many other successes on so many other brands:

'My Life. My Card.' for American Express; the continuing story of 'Beyond Petroleum' for BP; 'The Human Network' for Cisco; the 'It's Time for Real' campaign for Hellmann's; and the Pond's work in the US (where we made the brand part of the story in the television mini-series The Starter Wife) and in Asia (where we created a soap opera to launch a new product) come quickly to mind. Creative strength, in every discipline, is not just good to have; it is vital to our success. It sets us apart and defines our value.

Creative strength is also a sure way to attract business from new and existing clients. Two wins stand out in 2007. First, Ogilvy Paris won the prestigious Louis Vuitton global account, for whom we are now delivering a full 360 Degree service. This was a huge win, hotly contested. We silenced all doubters with a campaign that has captured the imagination of the public around the world. It is the kind of work that makes our clients and us famous.

Our win back of Motorola was no less gratifying. We are grateful to our Moto teams in Asia and Latin America, whose stellar work on the brand convinced the client to reinstate us as lead global agency.

We also had big wins from existing clients, long my measure of success. We won Coca-Cola in Brazil, a huge market; and Sears in the US, a sweet recovery of a beloved retailer. We also had wins from Abbott, Aflac, Allergan, BAT, BMS, BP, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cisco, Diageo, Duracell, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Kraft, Unilever and Wyeth, among others.

In the future, as always, everything we do must be evaluated in the context of our clients' businesses. We can measure, we can segment, we can get precise, but if the communication doesn't move people, doesn't delight and surprise, doesn't ultimately drive revenue for the client, then the effort is wasted. We continue to adhere to the Ogilvy promise: “We sell or else.'

A closing note on 2007 is that while the year had its challenges, we did not flinch. We came out of the year with new ways of working, a better array of tools, more efficient processes, outstanding creative resources, and strong leadership across our operating companies and practices.

We enter the new year with confidence and enthusiasm; and with the conviction that David Ogilvy would be as proud and pleased about our performance and potential today as we are of the principles and legacy he left us.