Liz Taylor to take global creative helm at Ogilvy, as agency undergoes big changes
Ogilvy has hired outgoing Leo Burnett exec Liz Taylor as its next global chief creative officer, continuing a wave of management changes at the WPP-owned shop as it looks to rebound from revenue declines. She replaces Piyush Pandey, who is taking on a new role as chairman of global creative and will continue to serve as chairman of Ogilvy India.
Taylor joins Ogilvy after a two-year stint at Publicis Groupe, where she held dual roles as chief creative officer of Leo Burnett and creative lead for the larger Publicis Communications North America. Her Ogilvy appointment marks a reunion with the agency, where she rose through the ranks for several years until 2016, when she departed for FCB Chicago to serve as chief creative officer until mid-2019. She is known to be tight with Joe Sciarrotta, Ogilvy’s deputy global chief creative officer, with whom Taylor will partner, according to Ogilvy. Taylor’s husband, Chuck, works in Ogilvy’s creative department. Leo Burnett confirmed Taylor’s exit last week, while naming Chaka Sobhani, its U.K. creative chief, to the global chief creative officer role.
‘A modern creative leader’
At Ogilvy, Taylor will oversee creative output across 132 offices in 83 countries, spanning five business units: advertising, PR, experience, health, and growth and innovation.
“We could not be more thrilled to be welcoming Liz back home to Ogilvy,” Andy Main, Ogilvy’s global CEO, said in a statement. “Liz is a modern creative leader who leads from the front and understands that magic happens when we create and innovate at the intersection of our world-class capabilities and talent.” The statement cited Taylor’s “culture-shaping work for a range of clients,” including Bank of America, Boeing, Budweiser and Cadillac.
Taylor will remain in her home base of Chicago, but is expected to spend considerable time in New York. “There is something special about being able to come back to Ogilvy and join a team that is taking this iconic company into the future,” she said in a statement. “Creativity has the power to change everything and I’m looking forward to working with Ogilvy’s incredibly strong global network of creative talent to inspire people and brands to have an impact on the world.”
The hiring comes as Ogilvy looks to recover from a rough stretch. The agency in 2020 had estimated worldwide net revenue of $1.26 billion in 2020, down 16% from 2019, according to Ad Age Datacenter estimates.
Ogilvy experienced a massive loss in 2017 when American Express began moving its business to Dentsu, and in recent months Ogilvy lost the remaining work it had with the financial giant to that agency.
“They’ve had several smaller wins recently but not enough to make up for big losses,” said one person familiar with the agency. “It is a classic global agency problem: They are built on having giant global clients. If [clients] cut budget or go away, you have to go win 30 other accounts to make up for that.”
Of late, Ogilvy has bounced back with some notable account wins including Pernod Ricard’s Absolut Vodka, as well as the liquor marketer’s tequila and mezcal brands. It also won brand strategy work for rental car conglomerate Enterprise Holdings, as well as Zippo.
On WPP’s earnings call April 28, Chief Financial Officer John Rogers said Ogilvy had a like-for-like, or organic, decline in the first quarter, but that the company was “certainly demonstrating an improving trend.” Ogilvy was “clearly negative in the first quarter, but very much part of the turnaround strategy being led, of course, by Andy Main,” Rogers said.
Main joined Ogilvy last July after serving as global head of Deloitte’s Deloitte Digital. He replaced Worldwide CEO and Chairman John Seifert, a four-decade Ogilvy veteran.
Taylor’s hire continues Main’s remaking of Ogilvy’s leadership team. The New York office has a new leader in Carina De Blois, promoted to replace the outgoing Lauren Crampsie. In March, Devika Bulchandani assumed the role of CEO of Ogilvy North America, joining from McCann Worldgroup, where she oversaw campaigns including Mastercard’s “Priceless” ad slogan.
Bulchandani, in a statement about Taylor’s hire, said: “There are always those people who you yearn to work with some day—and Liz is one of those people. She is creatively ambidextrous and a sharp problem solver who shares our ambition to make Ogilvy the most creative company in the world, but most importantly Liz embodies both the goodness and greatness of Ogilvy.”
Taylor will report to both Main and WPP Global Chief Creative Officer Rob Reilly, who is charged with prioritizing creativity across the holding company. Earlier this week, Reilly elevated Javier Campopiano, Grey’s chief creative officer Europe and creative chairman U.K., to the newly created role of Grey global creative partner. In March, WPP brought in production vet Dave Rolfe, Reilly’s former colleague from his Crispin Porter + Bogusky days, as its global head of production.
Contributing: Bradley Johnson and Ann-Christine Diaz