NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After more than a decade at the helm of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Chairman-CEO Shelly Lazarus, 60, today announced internally a succession plan that will place Miles Young, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Asia-Pacific, into the global CEO seat effective Jan. 1, 2009, according to executives familiar with the matter. Ms. Lazarus will retain her title as chairman of Ogilvy Group.
Lazarus to Exit As Ogilvy & Mather's Global CEO
Asia-Pacific Leader Miles Young to Assume Post
The news announces the final stage of a legendary career that saw Ms. Lazarus become one of the most powerful women in the business world, not just Madison Avenue. As head of Ogilvy, she helped it grow internationally and pushed for investment in what were formerly known as below-the-line disciplines, like direct marketing, that contribute more than half of Ogilvy's total revenue. Along the way, she became known as a deft client handler, boasting close relationships at blue-chip companies like American Express and IBM.
Mr. Young, 53, who serves on WPP Group's worldwide board and is a member of Ogilvy's executive committee, started his career in the U.K. and first joined the agency in 1983 after stints at Lintas and Allen Brady & Marsh.
Much like Ms. Lazarus, he earned his chops on the direct side of the business; in 1990 he was named managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Direct, London, and later became regional director of O&M Direct Europe.
In September 1995, Mr. Young moved to Hong Kong to take on his current post. It is expected he will relocate in order to run the agency from Ogilvy's New York headquarters.
Finally, an answer
The question of who would one day follow in the footsteps of Ms. Lazarus -- a pillar in the industry, who over decades rose through the ranks to the top of Ogilvy -- has been a hotly debated one. As Asia-Pacific is the agency's fastest-growing region, Mr. Young has often been rumored to be among the top picks, as has Brian Fetherstonhaugh, head of OgilvyOne.
Ms. Lazarus began her career in account-management roles on key clients such as American Express and Unilever, before defecting from the general agency to become general manager of Ogilvy & Mather Direct in the U.S. She moved back to the ad side in the early '90s, taking on increasing responsibility as president of the New York office, then North America, and chief operating officer-president of Ogilvy Worldwide in 1995. A year later, she was named CEO, and another year later, chairman.
In a wide-ranging 2006 interview, Ms. Lazarus told Advertising Age she had no timeline for moving on, stating her philosophy as "the day I'm bored, I'm leaving," and denying any aspirations to rule Ogilvy's parent WPP on account of a "holding-company CEO who's not going anywhere."
Asked about who might be a successor, she had said: "There are several people with Ogilvy Worldwide who could be the CEO. ... What I'm responsible for is to have a bench of people who could step in. It's one of the things I spend most of my time worrying about."
An Ogilvy spokeswoman referred calls to WPP. Representatives could not be immediately reached.