Ogilvy terminates chief creative Tham Khai Meng after employee complaints

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Tham Khai Meng attends the 2011 One Show at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, in New York City.
Tham Khai Meng attends the 2011 One Show at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, in New York City. Credit: Ben Gabbe/WireImage

The Ogilvy Group has terminated the employment of its chief creative officer, Tham Khai Meng, after an investigation into his behavior following employee complaints, according to a memo sent to staff Wednesday by CEO John Seifert.

Seifert said he had been informed of employee complaints two weeks prior.

"I found these complaints serious enough to appoint external legal counsel to investigate the matter," Seifert said. "After carefully reviewing the investigation's findings with several of my partners, we concluded that Khai's behavior was a clear breach of our company values and code of conduct. I have decided to terminate Khai's employment with the company with immediate effect."

Seifert added: "This is 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."

Ogilvy, which is part of the agency holding giant WPP, declined to comment further on the situation.

Tham could not be immediately reached for comment.

Tham began his career at Leo Burnett and also worked at McCann Erickson and Batey Ads, according to a biography on AdForum. He was named a co-chairman and regional executive creative director for Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific in 1999, according to a later WPP press release.

In 2002, he was named to Ad Age's "Global Power 100," which suggested to "look for Tham in a in a global creative role down the road, following in the footsteps of his mentor, Neil French." (French stepped down as WPP Group's worldwide creative director in 2005, after he said at an industry event that women "don't make it to the top because they don't deserve to.")

Ogilvy named Tham its worldwide creative director and chairman of its worldwide creative council in 2008.

At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last month, Tham announced at a small gathering at The Carlton hotel the agency planned to hire 20 senior women in creative positions globally by the end of 2020, and would partner with the 3% Movement to create and monitor benchmarks for employee satisfaction.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Tham has a variety of affiliations in the industry, including as an advisor for the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, a board member at Miami Ad School, an advisory board member at Twitter and a member of the Facebook Creative Council.

Twitter declined to comment. The Miami Ad School, Facebook Creative Council and the Berlin School didn't immediately respond for requests for comment.

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