John Seifert Tells Steve Hayden to Fix Ogilvy's Creative

North American Chairman Also Elevates Lars Bastholm While David Apicella Exits

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK ( -- In the latest management shake-up to ensue at Ogilvy & Mather, Steve Hayden has been appointed chief creative officer for the agency's North American and New York operations in the hopes of making the legendary -- but struggling -- network a competitive creative force again.

Steve Hayden
Steve Hayden
Other changes to the upper ranks include the retirement of David Apicella, vice chairman-creative for Ogilvy North America and an agency veteran of nearly three decades. A date for his departure from the WPP-owned agency has not yet been determined, and his role will not be filled. Additionally, Ogilvy's longtime head of digital creative, Jan Leth, will transition into a part-time role consulting with the company, with newcomer Lars Bastholm taking over his duties.

Ogilvy North America Chairman John Seifert, who lead the changes, told that blog reports stating that Mr. Apicella had been fired and that another large round of layoffs are in the works at Ogilvy are "categorically untrue." He added: "I don't have a clue where this kind of nonsense comes from."

Addressing cuts, rumors
Ogilvy slashed less than 5% of its North American staff at the beginning of the year, and in recent weeks less than 50 staffers, largely from units like Ogilvy Action and Ogilvy Healthworld, were also laid off. "We are not anticipating any major further staff reductions," Mr. Seifert said. "Right now, we believe we've done a very good job of managing the risks in terms of the staff that we need for the business we have."

Mr. Seifert also denied Chris Wall is leaving. Mr. Wall, who is vice chairman-creative for the New York office, will remain at the agency, reporting to Mr. Hayden. Mr. Wall, who has strong ties to the company's IBM account, will oversee a select group of clients but spend the majority of his time on new-business efforts. He could not be reached for comment.

"I'm excited having Chris out of staff meetings and back to what he really likes to do," said Mr. Hayden, who credits Mr. Wall with some of Ogilvy's more recent account wins like Stoli Vodka, Motorola, Thompson-Reuters and UnitedHealthcare.

In the near term, the industry will see Ogilvy, which traditionally focuses primarily on growing organically, increasingly pitch new clients, Mr. Hayden noted. "We need to keep our current clients happy, but we need a significant new business win or two."

Mr. Seifert said the new creative structure is necessary to get Ogilvy to a place where it can again be viewed as competitive in the current agency landscape. "We have to be seen delivering creative work that is the most effective work," and "the other side of the coin is we produce work that is recognized and awarded amongst the most talented players in the industry."

Mr. Hayden, 61, will keep his title as vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in addition to his membership seat on the board, but on a day-to-day basis he will focus on improving North America and New York. Worldwide creative Khai Meng Tham will absorb some of Mr. Hayden's global duties.

Hayden's next 60 days
His first order of business in the next 60 days is to evaluate Ogilvy's current creative structure and identify key areas where the agency can improve its performance. On a more personal level, Mr. Hayden is involved with accounts such as SAP and IBM but will need to quickly get up to speed on others, such as Kraft.

Mr. Hayden, whose earliest days in the business included a stint as a copywriter on the General Motors corporate account and as a writer for the TV show "Welcome Back, Kotter," brings with him decades of experience and brand relationships.

Along with Lee Clow, Mr. Hayden was responsible for the legendary 1984 ad campaign for Apple while at TBWA/Chiat/Day and for a time served as chairman-CEO of West Coast operations at BBDO. He joined Ogilvy 15 years ago in a newly created position of "brand steward" for the IBM global account and in 2001 he was promoted to vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and Shelly Lazarus' right-hand man.

He stressed that his new role was not a temporary position and that he "has no plans to retire in the foreseeable future."

The creative restructuring comes on the heels of a rejiggering at the top of other Ogilvy divisions, like direct and digital. This spring the agency: appointed a new managing director for Ogilvy One in Harvey Kipnis, who dropped his prior role as chief growth officer for Ogilvy North America; brought back Mat Zucker, who was most recently at to serve as an executive creative director at OgilvyOne; and recruited Mr. Bastholm, a former AKQA executive, to oversee digital creative.

Since landing in the U.S. after years of running the shop's operations in Asia, Ogilvy's new global CEO, Miles Young, has made addressing the agency's struggling North American operation his top priority. He wasted no time in undertaking drastic staff cuts and quickly making a series of internal management shifts and outside hires.

Whether the latest set of leadership changes at the agency will stick remains to be seen.

Reshuffling New York office
The New York office has reshuffled the management decks several times in the last few years. In 2006, the office named Andy Berndt named managing director. He departed for Google in 2007, and shortly thereafter Ogilvy named a new leadership team in New York consisting of Carla Hendra as chairman and Mr. Wall as vice chairman-creative. Ms. Hendra held onto her title as co-CEO of Ogilvy North America, a role shared with Bill Gray, but that setup was dismantled once Mr. Young arrived stateside, and promoted Mr. Seifert to run operations in the region.

Asked why this structure is expected to work when countless ones before it haven't taken hold, Mr. Seifert said: "I have come in with a mandate for change and I have come in with a view to getting people into the right jobs and getting them focused and accountable for our performance."

Rest assured more changes are on the way. Later this month, Ogilvy will relocate from its current headquarters in Worldwide Plaza on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan to a former candy factory located on the far West Side.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Ogilvy's January staff reduction was 10% of its North American staff. It was less than 5%.

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