Charlotte Beers: the Leadership of Change

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Since its inception, Ogilvy & Mather established itself as a reputable, creative and successful advertising agency. The company prided itself on having a “first class” focus on creative work and the resources to manage global and local campaign strategies, “the most local of the internationals, the most international of the locals.” During the booming 80’s the agency continued to reap profits even though their business strategy remained unchanged. The failure of Ogilvy & Mather to address the new trends in the advertising industry, such as the emergence of boutique firms and a change in fee structure, eventually led to losses of revenue, accounts, and a stark decrease in morale. Charlotte Beers, appointed CEO in 1992, hoped to turn Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) around and regain industry confidence. Because the previous CEO, Graham Phillips, was not able to adapt to the new trends, Ogilvy & Mather was not in a position to anticipate future changes internally and externally. Beers’ ultimate goal was to reorient the organization and revamp the strategy, moving from reactive mentality to an anticipatory one. Beers envisioned a unified, efficient, and global company committed to their clients’ goals--to be the “agency most valued by those who most value brands.” She wanted to achieve competitive advantage through her novel concept of “Brand Stewardship” and to restore the internal and external confidence of the firm. Charlotte Beers’ first step in the process of reorientation was to find allies within the structure of the firm that would support and implement Beers’ desired initiatives. Charlotte was looking for people within the firm who would also realize the significance and value of “brand” for the agency. Beers needed to find like-minded “kindred spirits,” and began soliciting ideas for change from her senior managers in one-on-one interviews in order to probe their views on disciplines, different regions, as well as other staff members. Charlotte Beers...
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