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'We had fragmented our brand': Ogilvy CEO John Seifert on 'refounding' the agency

By Published on .

John Seifert.
John Seifert. Credit: David Hall

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Earlier this year, Ogilvy Worldwide CEO John Seifert announced that the agency would be undergoing a "refounding," which he dubbed its "next chapter."

"We want to go back to what we think differentiates us, which is creativity that builds brands," he says. "We had followed the trends of the industry. We had fragmented our brand. We had created too many extensions of our brand that had lost clarity and focus of what we stood for as a total company."

A 39-year veteran of the legendary agency, Seifert joins us on the Ad Lib podcast to talk about what fixing that entails. "Times are tough," he says in surprisingly candid fashion. Not just at Ogilvy, but across the board—including for the agency's clients.

"Almost every client problem we've been asked to try to solve, we're trying to solve for ourselves," he says.

We discuss the encroachment of the consultancies into the advertising space. "It's really forced us to go back and clarify what business we think we're in," he says. We get his take on his former boss Martin Sorrell, what Sorrell's departure from WPP means for the agency holding company and what the Ogilvy brand stands for in 2018.

We also get treated to some personal stories about David Ogilvy himself, and why the #MeToo and Times Up/Advertising movements resonate with Seifert personally.

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