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Ogilvy & Mather

Report by Miles Young, worldwide chairman and chief executive officer

Photo of Miles Young, Worldwide chairman and chief executive officer, Ogilvy & Mather

Miles Young, worldwide chairman and chief executive officer

When we look back at 2014, 10 years on, I believe we will see it as a tipping point, the start of something transformative. The impact of the digital revolution is becoming apparent as some of the hype and misconceptions wear off (though there is plenty of both around, and, on the other side, plenty of denial still in our industry).

For us, it means simply this: the old world of ‘packaged communications’ (neat 30" spots, tidy direct mailshots, etc.) has been replaced by a new world of seamless content. Content is not a fantastic word, and accretions of meaning in different usages have tended to obscure it. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that content is king. In a self-select world, you live or die by the quality of your content and the deeper narrative or story which binds it together. Content is both wheat and chaff, and it is growing and harvesting the wheat fields that interest us.

When we met as a Board in New Delhi in February 2014, we set off a range of experiments and initiatives. As with most of our major clients, we are now content-driven (for which read digital-centric) and the future will see us becoming more and more a publisher, and less and less the agent of the past.

As we do that, the boundaries between traditional disciplines start to soften, but the fact that we – uniquely for our size – have all those disciplines, gives us a massive advantage. The journey has begun.

... the future will see us becoming more and more a publisher, and less and less the agent of the past

My creative partner, Tham Khai Meng, wrote a great piece on stories, The Ape, the Adman, and the Astronaut: Rediscovering the power of storytelling. It puts storytelling at the very heart of brand-building. It was heartening that superlative executions of brand stories led us to success again, as the world’s most creative network at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. This was our ‘three-peat’: the third year running we won it. It was significant that our clients were as proud of this success as we were – a reminder that superior creativity is a differential success factor in the marketplace.

We were pleased with the financial performance in 2014, with a strong showing in all four regions. In particular, North America surged, and we saw signs of recovery in the Southern European economies. A notable event for us was the acquisition of the majority shareholding of our partner in the Middle East, MEMAC. Led by Eddie Moutran, who joined our Board, this is a network with great strength in depth. It also reaffirms our belief in developing markets, and the importance for us to be leading edge within them.

In our disciplines, Ogilvy Public Relations appointed a new CEO, Stuart Smith; while Chris Graves as chairman will continue to spearhead Ogilvy PR’s drive into content. Stuart Smith and Brian Fetherstonhaugh (for OgilvyOne Worldwide) will report separately below; Matt Giegerich (for Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide) and Steve Harding (for Geometry Global, our JV with J. Walter Thompson).

My thanks go to our wonderful people, our clients who put so much trust in us, and the partners, especially our many colleagues at WPP, with whom we work so fruitfully.