Devika Bulchandani, who left McCann to join Ogilvy two years ago, has been named global CEO of the WPP agency network. Bulchandani takes over the role from Andy Main, who has held the position since June 2020 and will serve as a senior advisor until the end of the year.
Ogilvy names Devika Bulchandani global CEO
“Over the last two years, under Andy’s leadership, Ogilvy has seen a transformation in its creative and business performance," WPP CEO Mark Read said in a statement. “With the agency’s transformation a year ahead of the schedule we originally envisioned, Andy has decided that now is the right time to seek a new challenge and he is moving on with my personal thanks and best wishes.”
It's been a quick rise for Bulchandani, who was named Ogilvy's global president in January while maintaining her role as CEO of Ogilvy North America. The latter title is expected to be filled at a later date.
Bulchandani will now lead the network’s 131 offices across 93 countries, which spans its five business units: advertising, public relations, experience, consulting and health.
“David Ogilvy spoke about the importance of hiring giants and Devika is truly one of the giants in the industry," Main said. "It has been an honor being a part of this company’s rich history and I know Devika will continue accelerating the momentum our team has built.”
Ogilvy has been building momentum as of late, capped by winning Agency Network of the Year at this year’s Cannes Lions. Last year Ogilvy picked up business with TD Bank, Enterprise, FEMA, Absolut Vodka, as well as Coca-Cola. This year Ogilvy was named creative agency of record for Audi and won creative duties for SC Johnson alongside VMLY&R Commerce.
“The feeling inside [Ogilvy] is very different today than it was a couple of years ago and it's only going to get better,” Bulchandani told Ad Age in an August interview. “The first thing I did last year was pick up the phone and call [search consultants] and talk to them. The best way I can describe it is they were like, ‘Ogilvy was on mute. We just didn't hear from them.’ We've rebuilt our entire business development [team], new business team, and consultant outreach. We're showing up in more and more pitches.”
Bulchandani attributes that change to adding new talent that has built the foundation of the Ogilvy brand and become more solution-oriented for clients. “The reality of our business and what clients want today is they don't want a silo,” Bulchandani said. “They don't want [just] advertising, they want a solution.”
In October 2021, the agency brought on Chris Beresford-Hill, a former chief creative officer of Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, as president of advertising for North America. He joined a recently hired diverse leadership team including Liz Taylor as global chief creative officer; Stacey Ryan Cornelius, who was named global chief financial officer in January 2021; and Maria O’Keeffe, who was named global chief people officer in March. In July of this year, Menno Kluin was also brought on as chief creative officer of Ogilvy New York's flagship creative office.
Even though advertising makes up for 60% of the agency’s revenue, Bulchandani says there has been significant growth in its PR, health, and consulting units. Bulchandani said she will look to put a continued focus on making the capabilities work together while growing them individually.
Taylor, who worked at Ogilvy for four years until 2016 before rejoining the agency last year as global chief creative officer, said she has also seen a significant shift in the way the agency operates. “Previously, when I was here there were was a lot of P&Ls, a lot of CEOs and CFOs under those P&Ls,” said Taylor. “It's not integrating everything together, but it's bringing what I would call interesting intersections on behalf of a problem to solve.”
In August, Ogilvy PR launched a global business offering. Ogilvy Health bolstered its leadership last year when it named WPP exec Kim Johnson as its global CEO. Earlier this year former Harrison & Star chief creative officer Adam Hessel was named chief creative officer of Ogilvy Health.
“We’re at that pivotal point where the team is pretty much here and what we've got to do is institutionalize it," Bulchandani said in the interview.
“David Ogilvy changed the industry 74 years ago when he founded this iconic agency,” said Bulchandani in a statement announcing her rise. “As we write the next chapter in the history books of Ogilvy, we will do it together with our clients, using creativity to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”