Alison Weissbrot
Mar 18, 2024

Ogilvy elevates Kent Wertime to oversee experience unit under Ogilvy One brand

EXCLUSIVE: Wertime will lead the new global division alongside his dual role as co-CEO of Ogilvy APAC.

Photo: Ogilvy
Photo: Ogilvy

Ogilvy is putting the Ogilvy One brand back at the forefront of its experience capabilities, as it shepherds in new leadership and pivots its approach to what it calls “relationship design.”

Longtime Ogilvy executive Kent Wertime has been appointed global CEO of Ogilvy One and will lead the division alongside his dual role as co-CEO of Ogilvy APAC. He will oversee 3,800 employees around the world and report to global CEO Devika Bulchandani.

Roberto Fara, chief creative officer at Ogilvy Spain, will take on the dual role of global creative experience lead at Ogilvy One. Ravi Pal is chief technology officer and Nate McNabb will lead global partnerships.

Rajesh Midha will lead the offering in North America and Mauro Caggiano will do so in LATAM. Ogilvy chief client officer Clare Lawson will lead operations in EMEA. Ab Gaur, global chief data and technology officer and CEO of Verticurl, will lead Ogilvy One in APAC.

Ogilvy One is the agency’s direct marketing brand, dating back to 1972. It was retired in 2017 under CEO John Seifert, who reorganised the agency’s various units under a single P&L to eliminate silos. 

When former Deloitte Digital exec Andy Main took the top job at Ogilvy in 2020, he again restructured the business into four units, with Ogilvy One’s capabilities forming part of Ogilvy Experiences, which had an emphasis on digital transformation. 

According to Wertime, the Ogilvy One brand never really faded in clients’ minds, and the decision to bring it back to the forefront allows it to both clarify and simplify its offering while fine-tuning it. 

“People forget, David Ogilvy was one of the true, original direct marketers,” he said. “He loved talking eye-to-eye with a specific customer. Ogilvy One always stood for a capability [where] Ogilvy was recognised as being very leading-edge.”

Under Wertime, Ogilvy One’s approach will lean more heavily on those direct marketing roots as it looks to foster one-to-one relationships with modern customers. Now that the martech tools and platforms that enable direct customer relationships are table stakes, the focus will lie in bringing creativity and brand building to individual customer communications. 

“You can't be in business and not be in relationship marketing, and that’s been a really big shift over 20 years, accelerated by half a trillion dollars of marketing technology spend,” he said. “You’d think with all that piping out there, all that potential, there'd be a lot of amazing stuff. Ironically, it’s the opposite. There’s a lot of similar stuff.”

Ogilvy One plans to help clients stand out through what it’s calling “relationship design,” which moves past traditional CRM approaches such as loyalty programs to designing services, programs and products that meet individual customer needs. Its services span customer acquisition, service design, continuous commerce and loyalty and CRM. 

Examples of recent work include a gamified experience for Coca-Cola in Brazil that allowed WhatsApp users to transform their points into shapes that replicate a bottle of the soda. According to Fara, the experience led to about 100,000 newly acquired customers. Another recent campaign for Colgate allowed customers to upload their own personal smiles to be used in the brand’s logo.

“They get rewards, we get engagement, we get acquisition of consumers,” Fara said.  

AI will play a role in enabling these experiences by allowing for more granular analysis of customer profiles, Wertime explained. Ogilvy One will work with WPP Open, the holding company’s proprietary AI tool with integrations into Adobe, Salesforce and other providers, according to a pitch deck shared with Campaign US. The unit will be underpinned by Verticurl, the CRM loyalty division Ogilvy acquired in 2006.

But the focus will now lie much more on creativity and brand, with an ambition to extend the creative thinking Ogilvy is known for into the world of modern CRM. 

“It really centers it as an Ogilvy offer around creativity and customer, where I think Ogilvy Experience was a little more focused on digital transformation and technology,” Wertime said. 

Bulchandani added Ogilvy One’s mission is not to do work that is all about using fancy technology, but using that technology to create experiences that are unique and recognisable to a specific brand.

“You want to be able to see the idea and say, ‘You know what, nobody else could do it,’” she explained. “That is the core of what we bring to the table.” 

Bulchandani described the new approach as part of a “revitalisation across Ogilvy of [our] core businesses,” and said it was “time for us to rethink the leadership and our market-facing proposition.” 

She added the renewed focus is unrelated to financial pressures at parent WPP and that Ogilvy One plans to invest in hiring. 

“What we’re doing is accelerating and evolving the offering,” Bulchandani said. “We always talk about clients’ business evolving. Agencies have to evolve their offer at the same speed.” 

Bulchandani added that she sees Ogilvy One’s offer becoming a growing part of the business and that it was shaped around client demands, but declined to share growth goals. 


Campaign US

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