His connections to Ogilvy date back to 1988, when Ogilvy purchased 33% of Academy, a Montreal ad agency started in 1981 by Mr. Piliguian with two partners. In 1990, Ogilvy upped its stake to 49% and Mr. Piliguian became chairman of Ogilvy & Mather’s Canadian offices until 1994, when he moved to New York.
He headed Ogilvy’s office there for four years before shifting to CEO-North America in 1998. Later, as chairman, he created a new leadership structure for North America, establishing an office of the chairman whose members include Bill Gray and Carla Hendra, co-CEOs of Ogilvy North America; Gary Lee, chief operating officer of North America; and himself. A spokeswoman for Ogilvy said Mr. Piliguian, 58, will not be replaced as chairman.
Out of spotlight
Mr. Piliguian, despite his executive titles and demonstrated success at running companies, tries to stay out of the spotlight. “I’m not a shy person, but I like to keep out of the limelight. I’d rather push those people in the day-to-day out there,” he told Advertising Age in 2000, the year he was honored by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network for multicultural efforts undertaken at Ogilvy.
An Armenian born in Alexandria, Egypt, Mr. Piliguian moved to Montreal in his youth and his entrée into advertising was via TV production. After high school, he took a summer job at Montreal TV station CFCF, and from there pursued a career in TV production. He eventually started his own production company, Champlain Productions, which grew to be one of Canada’s largest. Champlain, part of CFCF, was sold along with other assets, in 1972, to Multiple Access, owned by the Bronfman family.