Pa­tou Nuyte­mans In­ter­view

Memac Ogilvy’s new chief ex­ec­u­tive, Pa­tou Nuyte­mans, talks in­te­gra­tion, per­for­mance mar­ket­ing, and growth in a chal­leng­ing mar­ket

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Pa­tou Nuyte­mans’ new of­fice is 24 floors above Sheikh Zayed Road. Its view – out to­wards the Creek and Fes­ti­val City – couldn’t be fur­ther re­moved from her old haunt in Brus­sels.

“For the first three weeks I hardly moved out of this of­fice,” she says. “It was all about get­ting our plans for next year to­gether. Lots of video con­fer­ences, lots of con­ver­sa­tions… just to get on­board.”

An Ogilvy vet­eran, Nuyte­mans has been with the net­work for 22 years, op­er­at­ing in five dif­fer­ent mar­kets in five very dif­fer­ent roles. Now, not only has she re­tained her po­si­tion as Ogilvy’s chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer for Europe, the Mid­dle East and Africa, but has taken on the man­tle of chief ex­ec­u­tive at Memac Ogilvy.

In do­ing so she has suc­ceeded Ed­mond Moutran, the founder and chair­man of Memac Ogilvy and pre­vi­ously its chief ex­ec­u­tive, with Moutran shift­ing his fo­cus to that of ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, al­though his ex­pe­ri­ence and coun­sel will be keenly tapped by Nuyte­mans.

Wel­com­ing, with an hon­est and en­ter­tain­ing baf­fle­ment of Dubai’s ge­og­ra­phy, Nuyte­mans has that new­comer’s cu­rios­ity of her sur­round­ings. She also has dig­i­tal run­ning through her veins.

With a track record of fa­cil­i­tat­ing the trans­for­ma­tion of Ogilvy’s dig­i­tal of­fer­ing glob­ally, it won’t come as any sur­prise to hear that dig­i­tal is at the heart of her pri­or­i­ties at Memac Ogilvy.

“In terms of the clients we have, the op­por­tu­nity to do more so­phis­ti­cated work for them in dig­i­tal, in per­for­mance mar­ket­ing, in e-com­merce is just ab­so­lutely huge,” says Nuyte­mans. “There are ob­vi­ously some work streams to move for­ward, but over­all the op­por­tu­nity is big and we’re well placed to play into it.”

Those op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude im­prov­ing per­for­mance mar­ket­ing and e-com­merce and, within the larger per­spec­tive of dig­i­tal, trans­form­ing clients into om­nichan­nel, dig­i­tal age com­pa­nies.

It also means the in­tro­duc­tion of So­cial Lab, which Nuyte­mans has led the ex­pan­sion of glob­ally since its ac­qui­si­tion by WPP in 2013. Now present in the re­gion, its role is to build, en­gage and am­plify brands’ so­cial pres­ence.

“I think it will re­ally help clients trans­form their strate­gies in so­cial me­dia, in­te­grat­ing it more with their busi­ness goals,” says Nuyte­mans of So­cial Lab. “So we’re not do­ing so­cial me­dia for the sake of so­cial me­dia – for the sake of hav­ing a com­mu­nity – but ac­tu­ally lever­ag­ing so­cial me­dia to re­ally build brands and to drive busi­ness re­sults.”and then there’s Ogilvy’s ‘Next Chap­ter’ evo­lu­tion, an in­te­gra­tion strat­egy that was out­lined by global chief ex­ec­u­tive John Seifert at the begin­ning of the year.

Next Chap­ter, says Nuyte­mans, is

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about en­sur­ing the agency is com­pletely client fo­cussed.

“We al­ways were,” she says, “but we were, as with most agen­cies, built around dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines. And those dis­ci­plines didn’t nec­es­sar­ily help us to be to­tally client fo­cussed, be­cause de­pend­ing on which door the client came in, we served them out of that dis­ci­pline.

“Next Chap­ter is about tak­ing those walls away and giv­ing clients the an­swers they need. It’s about mak­ing us more in­te­grated and pro­vid­ing seam­less mod­ern mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions and de­liv­er­ing them ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently.”

In prac­ti­cal terms this means Ogilvy PR, Ogilvy­one and Ogilvy Health and Well­ness will cease to ex­ist as sep­a­rate en­ti­ties, with all dis­ci­plines be­ing con­sol­i­dated into a sin­gle in­te­grated en­ter­prise op­er­at­ing un­der one P&L. It’s a trans­for­ma­tion that be­gan in the US at the start of the year and is be­ing rolled out glob­ally.

“There’s no sense of los­ing the ex­per­tise, it’s just that as an iden­tity we will have one Ogilvy and have dif­fer­ent do­main ex­per­tise,” says Nuyte­mans. “We’re mov­ing to one in­te­grated agency, with client team, strategic team, cre­ative team, de­liv­ery team – one sin­gle struc­ture with no kind of dif­fer­ent units.”

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” adds Nuyte­mans. “We’ve got a lot of good tal­ent. In look­ing for­ward and fig­ur­ing out what our fu­ture chal­lenges are, could there be some re­place­ments and could there be some changes? Yes. But it’s first and fore­most about re­ally un­der­stand­ing where we are to­day, what are our gaps, how do we fill them, and then fig­ur­ing out where our cur­rent tal­ent goes first.”

All of this is to be un­der­taken in a mar­ket that is suf­fer­ing. Ad­ver­tis­ing spend in the Mid­dle East and North Africa is ex­pected to de­crease by 18.6 per cent this year, ac­cord­ing to Zenith, mak­ing it the only re­gion in the world to wit­ness a de­cline.

“In my 25-year ca­reer, this isn’t the hap­pi­est of times for our in­dus­try over­all,” she says. “In this par­tic­u­lar re­gion, the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal cli­mate has trans­lated into tremen­dous cuts in me­dia bud­gets and agen­cies are feel­ing that pres­sure.

“But on the other hand, I’m quite con­fi­dent that if we right­size our of­fer­ing – our ca­pa­bil­ity to ac­tu­ally help clients deal with those types of pres­sures – it is ac­tu­ally quite promis­ing and there will al­ways be enough work to do.

“So even if the over­all pot won’t get big­ger, hope­fully we can grow our share of the pie by right­siz­ing our of­fer. Is it more dif­fi­cult than ever be­fore? Yes, ab­so­lutely. So we’ll have to work harder than we’ve ever done.

“Let’s say on the one hand we do plan quite con­ser­va­tively mov­ing for­ward be­cause there are too many macroe­co­nomic fac­tors that we don’t fully con­trol. But on the other hand, So­cial Lab is to­day six times the size of what it was three-and-a-half years ago. So, with the right of­fer, growth is ab­so­lutely pos­si­ble. It’s about mak­ing sure our agency un­der­stands what client needs are to­day and can cater to them. If you do that, growth is pos­si­ble, but con­ser­va­tively or pru­dently, as the macroe­co­nomic fac­tors are not in our favour.”


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