Ogilvy’s S’porean ad chief fired over com­plaints about be­hav­iour

The New Paper - - NEWS - NG HUIWEN

Sin­ga­porean ad­ver­tis­ing vet­eran Tham Khai Meng was on Wed­nes­day fired from his long-time po­si­tion as world­wide chief cre­ative of­fi­cer of The Ogilvy Group.

The global ad­ver­tis­ing agency’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer John Seifert told em­ploy­ees in a memo that this fol­lowed an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into com­plaints about Mr Tham’s be­hav­iour.

The com­plaints sur­faced two weeks ago and were se­ri­ous enough that an ex­ter­nal le­gal coun­sel was ap­pointed to in­ves­ti­gate, said the memo.

“Af­ter care­fully re­view­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s find­ings with sev­eral of my part­ners, we con­cluded that Khai’s be­hav­iour was a clear breach of our com­pany val­ues and code of con­duct,” Mr Seifert wrote.

“I have de­cided to ter­mi­nate Khai’s em­ploy­ment with the com­pany with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.”

Mr Tham, in his 60s and mar­ried, joined the ad gi­ant in 1999. In 2009, he be­came the first Asian and Sin­ga­porean to be­come world­wide chief cre­ative of­fi­cer.

At Ogilvy, he played a role in shap­ing the iden­ti­ties of brands such as Coca-Cola, IBM and Louis Vuit­ton. He also led Ogilvy to win the pres­ti­gious Cannes Lions Net­work of the Year award five years in a row from 2012.

He was also one of four re­cip­i­ents of the De­signer of the Year award at the 2009 Pres­i­dent’s De­sign Award here.

Un­der his lead­er­ship, the Ogilvy and Mather Asia Pa­cific net­work re­ceived Cam­paign Brief Asia’s Cre­ative Net­work of the Year award be­tween 2001 and 2008.

Mr Tham was awarded Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of the Year in the same years, which led to his 2008 in­duc­tion into the Cam­paign Brief Hall of Fame.

Ogilvy’s for­mer world­wide cre­ative di­rec­tor Tuan Ching, who worked with Mr Tham for about nine years, told The Straits Times yes­ter­day that he was shocked by the news.

“He was al­ways pro­fes­sional and kind to me,” he said. “I haven’t had the chance to speak to him yet.”

In the memo, Mr Seifert called Mr Tham’s ter­mi­na­tion “an im­por­tant mo­ment to reaf­firm that no in­di­vid­ual in this com­pany is too se­nior or too im­por­tant not to be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions”. – AD­DI­TIONAL RE­PORT­ING BY JOSE HONG & MELODY ZACCHEUS

nghui­wen@sph.com.sg

PHOTO: OGILVY & MATHER

Com­plaints about Mr Tham Khai Meng’s be­hav­iour sur­faced two weeks ago.

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