Impact - - FEATURE -

John Seifert, World­wide Chair­man & CEO, Ogilvy & Mather tells Srabana Lahiri that he is mo­ti­vated by ‘di­vine dis­con­tent’ rel­a­tive to the ideals that the com­pany’s founder David Ogilvy had set for his col­leagues

Q] It’s been a year since you have taken over the top job at O&M. What have been some of the high points of the year for you?

It’s been fan­tas­tic to en­gage the net­work on the

‘Next Chap­ter’ trans­for­ma­tion plan for our fu­ture that is go­ing to carry us for the next 20-30 years. The level of en­gage­ment across ev­ery re­gion, all our ma­jor clients, across all the dif­fer­ent ca­pa­bil­i­ties within the Ogilvy group, everyone has come to play. We don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree on ev­ery de­tail, but the fact is that I have a pal­pa­ble sense that peo­ple see the im­por­tance of do­ing this for our fu­ture, and are pre­pared to be bold. That’s prob­a­bly the most re­ward­ing as­pect. The other thing I draw strength from ev­ery­day is re­ac­tions from our clients who could not be more con­sis­tently sup­port­ive of re­align­ing the com­pany. Q] You have said dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is among your top pri­or­i­ties. How are you go­ing about it, and on what other fronts will O&M fo­cus, as new tech­nolo­gies, new mar­ket forces, shifts in con­sumer be­hav­iour change the me­dia land­scape?

We have done three things in depth over the last 24 months. The first is led by Carla Hen­dra, Vice-Chair­man of Ogilvy glob­ally. We did a com­pre­hen­sive anal­y­sis of the dig­i­tal land­scape, and got a very broad and deep un­der­stand­ing of dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties and dig­i­tal ser­vices in our in­dus­try sec­tor. Se­condly, we de­cided on the 10 core ser­vices that we thought Ogilvy needs to be highly ca­pa­ble in, and care­fully de­fined what those ser­vices are, and the com­pe­ten­cies re­quired to de­liver them. Third, we have now au­dited the en­tire sys­tem - all our mar­kets, all our com­pa­nies, both Ogilvy-branded com­pa­nies and com­pa­nies that we ei­ther ac­quired or brought into the group in the past five years that have dig­i­tal skills and dig­i­tal tal­ent. We now have a very good as­sess­ment of where we are rel­a­tive to the core ser­vices that we want to of­fer. We are now in the process of fine-tun­ing that to re­veal to all mar­kets be­fore the year-end where they stand and what our plans are for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment. We are fig­ur­ing out whether we will hire new tal­ent, remix our tal­ent or ac­quire new ca­pa­bil­i­ties, how we will fill the gaps. The good news is, we have a very clear view of what dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion will mean over the next three to five years. Q] What are the emerg­ing mar­kets that look at­trac­tive just now?

It wouldn’t be cor­rect to call In­dia, China and Brazil as emerg­ing mar­kets any­more be­cause of their scale and im­por­tance. But, I still con­sider them as very im­por­tant mar­kets that can de­velop fur­ther. Right now, 20 mar­kets are 90% of the com­pany. I am try­ing to fig­ure out the next 20 - some of them are very ex­cit­ing, fast-grow­ing mar­kets for the fu­ture, such as Colom­bia, Viet­nam, In­done­sia… It’s just a ques­tion of how we scale them up to their full po­ten­tial. There is prob­a­bly another six that have all the char­ac­ter­is­tics to be very im­por­tant mar­kets for the fu­ture. If you come back and eval­u­ate us 10 years from now, we’ll prob­a­bly have 25-27 mar­kets in the net­work.

What will be the growth drivers for O&M, go­ing for­ward?

The growth drivers are re­ally sim­ple - we are go­ing to fo­cus on build­ing the world’s most val­ued brands. Mak­ing brands mat­ter in this frag­mented, tur­bu­lent, fast grow­ing, digitally en­abled world is our mis­sion. There have never been more ways to build brands than there are to­day; and it does not mean only ad­ver­tis­ing. Brand­build­ing touches on ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence - from em­ploy­ees to busi­ness part­ners to cus­tomers to end con­sumer, ev­ery­body who touches a brand needs to be thought of as im­por­tant in the process of brand-build­ing. We want to have the rich­est ar­ray of ca­pa­bil­i­ties to serve the brand-build­ing agenda. We will never claim to do ev­ery­thing that comes with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of build­ing a brand, but we can have a unique role in help­ing grow the brands of our clients.

Tell us about your ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with O&M’s Global Brand Com­mu­nity of 25 key global clients – what are some of your main take-aways from there?

I wouldn’t be pe­rus­ing ‘Next Chap­ter’ if it wasn’t for ev­ery­thing I have learnt over the last 20 years from this port­fo­lio of global clients. These clients are the foun­da­tion of the com­pany. We have been work­ing with many of them - some of the best known, most val­ued brands in the world – for decades. I want to de­velop the fu­ture of Ogilvy around them. I’ve had the priv­i­lege of work­ing on sev­eral of them per­son­ally – I worked on

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