Matthew Miller
Sep 3, 2014

Ogilvy & Mather China promotes Chris Reitermann to CEO

BEIJING - Ogilvy & Mather has promoted Chris Reitermann, president of O&M Advertising in Asia-Pacific, to China CEO as Shenan Chuang moves to vice chairman for Greater China.

Chris Reitermann
Chris Reitermann

Reitermann, an 18-year Ogilvy veteran, will retain his current responsibilities. Chuang, CEO since 2007, will continue to help the agency "shape and maintain its strong culture" and work on key client relationships, according to the agency.

Chuang is still "fresh at heart, but it's time to get a next generation of leadership in to take over management," Reitermann told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "You will hear a few other things in weeks to come. We are going to make some more changes and new hires, to make it even more clear that there is a new generation coming in."

The new CEO stressed that the changes are not a reaction to any particular problems but rather a "forceful" (he used this word four times in a 20-minute span) move by the market leader to look ahead from a position of strength and improve its footing.

Compared with high-growth time periods in the past, now is a good time for the agency to see what can be "optimised and sharpened", he said, adding that this does not imply job cuts or major structural changes. "China is a highly flexible environment," he said. "I don't think there needs to be cuts or large changes. It's really about how to finesse and optimise. If you optimise a few parts by a few per cent, you can have a huge outcome in the end."

Specifically, Reitermann cited five areas he will aim to address as he takes the reins.

Digital: Ogilvy is by far the largest digital agency in the market, Reitermann asserted, but many people are not aware of it. He wants to "tie all the nodes together in the most effective way" while also adjusting for the broader changes technology has wrought. "It's not about running more digital campaigns," he said, "but how you look at branding and marketing in a world that is digital", which has implications for planning and every other aspect of agency operations.

Integration: Despite its size and wide range of offerings, "sometimes we underleverage that with clients", Reitermann said, specifically mentioning field-marketing agency Dawson and Neo@Ogilvy as assets that could be better integrated for client benefit.

Social: Again, Ogilvy has one of the biggest social agencies if you add all the "bits" together, and Reitermann will seek to "consolidate that a bit better to make sure it is part of bigger integrated solutions."

People: While Ogilvy has a strong brand and can attract talent, it needs to do better at retention by offering "a competitive environment and developing people in a more structured way than we've done in that past."

Creativity: "Us being who we are, we have a responsibility to drive the level of creativity in China in a much more forceful way than we have in the past," Reitermann said. The slowing economic backdrop makes this a perfect time to do so, he added. "Brand is now a much more important part of the equation. We have an opportunity to show the power of what we do. And clients are more open to long-term strategies and a long-term view on the development of their brand."

Reitermann joined Ogilvy Direct in London after a career in banking, then spent four years with Ogilvy Taiwan before moving to Beijing in 2000 to help establish OgilvyInteractive.  He gained oversight for Ogilvy & Mather Group Shanghai in 2009 and ascended to his Asia-Pacific president role in 2012. More recently he established the product and brand innovation agency called K1ND (OneKind) in Singapore and China.

Reitermann is a "natural successor" to Chuang and has been an "agenct of change" for Ogilvy, notably in that he was "one of the very first people to embrace the industry’s move to digital", Paul Heath, chairman and CEO of O&M Asia Pacific, said in a release.

TB Song, chairman of O&M Greater China, said in a release that the agency has much to thank Chuang for during her tenure as CEO, "particularly her contributions to the remarkable growth of the agency and numerous industry accolades". 

 

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