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Ogilvy Case Study

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Charlotte BeersÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦ Aspiration

With declining revenues and gloomed outlook facing Ogilvy, Beers was determined to seek a Ð'ÐŽÐ'§new courseÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё to inspire client confidence and restore glory of the Ð'ÐŽÐ'§beleagueredÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё brand.

Main forces in the industry challenging Ogilvy (Robbins p644) included reduced advertising budget, growing competition, and demands for centralized global campaign (p2-3). OgilvyÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦s struggles with the new economy were exemplified by losing several key accounts. Also, lack of financial discipline and cost control and absence of collaboration between headquarter and local offices exacerbated the situation (p5).

Beers was tapped by WPP as an external change agent (Robbins p647) to lead Ogilvy through this critical period. Although disadvantaged by an inadequate understanding of the agency, Beers quickly established her presence in an organization that Ð'ÐŽÐ'§rejects outsidersÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё with her enthusiasm for the brand (p5-6).

Beers recognized that to revitalize the Ogilvy brand, a planned change (Robbins p646) is needed to shake up a complacent organization that had a tendency for working Ð'ÐŽÐ'§within the old frameworkÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё (p5). To manage such planned change she aspired to develop a vision, forceful enough to improve OgilvyÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦s ability to adapt to the changes associated with the new economy and change employee behavior.

Vision-Developing Process

In crafting a new vision, Beers and her team initially failed to effectively implement change in the Ð'ÐŽÐ'§unfreezingÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё stage (Kotter, Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail). Beers and her team shared the view of taking Ð'ÐŽÐ'§no baby stepsÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё (p8) at the outset, which created an illusion that the agency-wide vision can be easily developed.

Examining KotterÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦s eight-step plan for implementing change, Beers first failed to create a powerful enough guiding coalition. Although Beers catalyzed the initial urgency and rallied people who accept change (Robbins p649), only ten senior executives attended the 1992 Vienna meeting. Given the size of Ogilvy, such small number of participants is far less than sufficient to fuel enough power for the guiding coalition (Kotter). Moreover, attendants of the 1992 Vienna meeting had Ð'ÐŽÐ'§never met before for such a purposeÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё and Ð'ÐŽÐ'§were both tentative with each other and elated to share their perspectivesÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё (p8). The absence of history of teamwork in BeersÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦ handpicked group also hindered the efforts to form a powerful guiding coalition (Kotter).

Second mistake made by Beers and her team during 1992 was the inability to create an appealing vision. A vision that is easy to communicate and appeals to its audience is essential to successful transformation (Kotter). However, the idea of Ð'ÐŽÐ'§brand stewardshipÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё was initially described as Ð'ÐŽÐ'§embryonicÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё (p9) and merely a tool for achieving the next, yet identified stage (p11). An undefined Ð'ÐŽÐ'§brand stewardshipÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё did not help clarify the direction in which Ogilvy should move under BeersÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦ leadership, and any efforts such as Ð'ÐŽÐ'§brand auditÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё and formulating short-term goals cannot substitute a vision. Without a sound, sensible version, no successful change can be achieved.

Two mistakes during the vision-developing process slowed the momentum in BeersÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦ pursue and resulted in unsatisfying repercussions. Not until over one year after the Vienna meeting Beers and her team rectified these errors by organizing a larger-scale meeting at Doral Arrowwood in fall 1993, involving the entire O&M Worldwide board along with eight other local presidents, to generate a powerful guiding coalition (p11). Beers turned the discussion from a Ð'ÐŽÐ'§chat sessionÐ'ÐŽÐ'Ё into serious, active participation among different groups in 1993, and finally delivered a viable, long-term vision (p11-12).

BeersÐ'ÐŽÐ'¦ Change Initiative and Challenges Ahead

Under-communication, unresolved resistance to change and power struggles within Ogilvy impeded



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