Striving for synergy at OgilvyOne

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Ogilvy's perfect circle was a little lopsided in Chicago, where the WPP Group agency said it wasn't living up to its 360-degree branding philosophy. To more fully deliver on its corporate mission to bring clients seamless marketing solutions from its various units, it brought on Mark Hodes as managing director of OgilvyOne, Chicago, to create synergies between the direct unit and sibling ad shop Ogilvy & Mather.

"Historically in this market, Ogilvy & Mather and OgilvyOne had probably operated more independently than we wish they had," said Linda Garrison, co-managing director of Ogilvy, Chicago. "There's been a growing acknowledgement within Ogilvy that 360-degree brand stewardship is a sign and a differentiating characteristic of our network," she said. "As our understanding of the value of that notion has grown, our belief that our direct and our general agency resources should be integrated has grown as well."

OgilvyOne was the No. 1 marketing services company worldwide last year with $430.7 million revenue globally and $173.5 million in the U.S., according to Advertising Age figures, led in this country by its largest operation in New York. In addition to New York and Chicago, OgilvyOne's North American presence also extends to Minneapolis and Toronto.

"[Chicago] had much of an advertising-led business base," said Carla Hendra, president of OgilvyOne North America, "but that's changing everywhere now," she said. "We have, at various times, had quite a good [OgilvyOne] resource there, but for a variety of reasons, including having the former managing director move on, we have not invested as much in the last year, and I believe we should do that."

Mr. Hodes, 39, joined OgilvyOne in July, and filled a post that had been vacant since his predecessor David Brown left at the end of 2000. Mr. Hodes' career includes a mix of direct and interactive experience.

He began his career at True North Communications, where he started the database marketing group for Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide in San Francisco. His resume includes running FCB's interactive group and merging its database marketing components with True North-backed Modem Media; building the customer relationship management group at Internet consultancy iXL; and managing client services at BrightStreet, a provider of an online promotional platform.

Mr. Hodes thought his technology and marketing background was a real selling point for OgilvyOne.

"I realize that even with a well thought-out strategy, and even with all of the world-class technology that we would assemble, if you didn't have the communications layer well in hand, [relationship marketing] was just an empty process," Mr. Hodes said of his work at technology-focused companies. "[Ms. Garrison] hired me because I brought the technology aspect, and with some degree of certainty, can shoot holes in that," he added. "I think I bring much more credibility to the discussion."

At OgilvyOne, Mr. Hodes is charged with growing the business by first leveraging Ogilvy & Mather's existing client base-including BP PLC and Sears, Roebuck & Co.

"It's easier to cross- and up-sell a current client than it is to acquire a new one. We put the Ogilvy client list first as our mining ground," Ms. Hendra said.

"When we look at our customers from a direct point of view, it gives us more information that can help us do better advertising for our customers," Ms. Garrison said. "It allows us another entree, another way to partner with these clients and another way to hopefully grow revenue with them."

OgilvyOne, Chicago, is currently doing work for Sears, for example, which Mr. Hodes said is still a work in progress. "We are working with certain groups [at Sears] to understand what Sears needs to do on their relationship marketing front and loyalty in particular," Mr. Hodes said. "Sears has to put the customer at the center; that's the way that they are going to grow."

And OgilvyOne is going to grow by building "long hallways," Mr. Hodes said, that link his organization of 25 staffers to the general agency in Chicago as well as to the New York office.

"The client just wants simplicity in how they deal with their partners," Mr. Hodes said. "If you build up barriers and create an agency within an agency, you will not succeed."

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