For Ogilvy & Mather North America, 2011 was another year of what Chairman-CEO John Seifert calls the “remixing” of the agency—aligning the organization to serve clients who are increasingly focused on creating enterprise marketing strategies rather than churning out campaigns in isolated media.
That shift has put Ogilvy in the content business, Mr. Seifert said. “We're reorienting our people and creating a more content-centric, seamless communications design--where we're not focused on a single [campaign] but are instead part of something larger and more connected.”
For clients like IBM Corp., that meant creating campaigns such as “Watson”—an effort that used Watson, a computer IBM built that understands human language, to highlight the company's innovation in analytics and workload optimized systems. The integrated campaign included a video documentary series, extensive social media promotions and Watson's participation on the game show Jeopardy! A custom-built site offered visitors white papers, videos and demos explaining how the same technology that drives Watson can help businesses address their analytics needs.
“These [campaigns] are complex initiatives that happen over a fairly long period of time and require a high degree of integration across all kinds of communications areas,” Seifert said.
That high degree of coordination can pay off: The Watson campaign, for example, has generated up to $30 million in revenue to date and created more than 500 leads representing as much as $200 million in sales opportunities.
Extensive content also drove 2011 campaigns for client DuPont, which unveiled its “Welcome to the Global Collaboratory” initiative, an effort that included partnerships with the BBC and National Geographic. The partnership with the BBC, for example, yielded “Horizons,” a series of 30-minute episodes discussing the future of business and how to tackle the challenges of providing food and energy to a growing global population. Within three months of launching, the program was the second-highest rated program on BBC World News.
Like IBM and DuPont, Ogilvy's large b-to-b clients—from UPS to SAP and Cisco—are all seeking to communicate what differentiates them from competitors and the role they play in the world, Seifert said. “They're all trying to build that level of enterprise connectivity,” he said.
To best serve these clients and tell their stories in a cohesive way, Ogilvy is shifting the way different groups within the agency work together—for example, integrating the creative production and technology groups so they can partner from a campaign's conceptual stage through final production, Seifert said. “That's a pretty big change for an agency of our scale and complexity,” he said.
Seifert is pleased with the results the agency's efforts are yielding, he said. Overall, 2011 was a “good to very good” year, he said, with revenue up about 6.8% for Ogilvy North America.
--Mary E. Morrison