Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (a)

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Harvard Business School

9-495-031
Rev. October 12, 1999

Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (A)
It was December 1993, and during the past year and a half, Charlotte Beers had found little time for reflection. Since taking over as CEO and chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in 1992, Beers had focused all her efforts on charting a new course for the world’s sixth-largest advertising agency. The process of crafting a vision with her senior management team had been—by all accounts—painful, messy, and chaotic. Beers, however, was pleased with the results. Ogilvy & Mather was now committed to becoming “the agency most valued by those who most value brands.” During the past year, the agency had regained, expanded, or won several major accounts. Confidence and energy appeared to be returning to a company the press had labeled “beleaguered” only two years earlier. Yet, Beers sensed that the change effort was still fragile. “Brand Stewardship,” the agency’s philosophy for building brands, was not well understood below the top tier of executives who had worked with Beers to develop the concept. Internal communication efforts to 272 worldwide offices were under way, as were plans to adjust O&M’s structures and systems to a new set of priorities. Not the least of the challenges before her was ensuring collaboration between offices on multinational brand campaigns. The words of Kelly O’Dea, her Worldwide Client Service president, still rang in her ears. “We can’t lose momentum. Most change efforts fail after the initial success. This could be the prologue, Charlotte . . . or it could be the whole book.”

Ogilvy & Mather
In 1948, David Ogilvy, a 38-year-old Englishman, sold his small tobacco farm in Pennsylvania and invested his entire savings to start his own advertising agency. The agency, based in New York, had financial backing from two London agencies, Mather & Crowther and S.H. Benson. “I had no clients, no credentials, and only $6,000 in the bank,” Ogilvy would later write in his autobiography, “[but] I managed to create a series of campaigns which, almost overnight, made Ogilvy & Mather famous.”1 Ogilvy’s initial ads—for Rolls-Royce, Schweppes, and Hathaway Shirts—were based on a marketing philosophy that Ogilvy had begun developing as a door-to-door salesman in the 1930s, and later, as a pollster for George Gallup. Ogilvy believed that effective advertising created an indelible image of the product in consumers’ minds and, furthermore, that campaigns should always be intelligent, stylish, and “first class.” Most of all, however, David Ogilvy believed that advertising must sell. “We sell—or else” became his credo for the agency. In 1950, Ogilvy’s campaign for Hathaway featured a distinguished man with a black eye patch, an idea that increased sales by 160%

1David

Ogilvy, Blood, Beer, and Advertising (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977).

Research Associate Nicole Sackley prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Herminia Ibarra as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Copyright © 1995 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School. 1

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Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (A)

and ran for 25 years. Other famous campaigns included Maxwell House’s “Good to the Last Drop” launched in 1958 and American Express’s “Don’t Leave Home Without It,” which debuted in 1962.

Gentlemen with Brains
David Ogilvy imbued his agency’s culture with the same “first...
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