Fixing 'missed opportunity' – Ogilvy CEO takes on WPP AUNZ transformation role

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 5 March 2018
David Fox

Ogilvy CEO David Fox has been made WPP AUNZ chief transformation officer for the group's creative agency business.

In addition to keeping his current role, Fox, who has been top boss of Ogilvy Australia for four years, will now split his time overseeing eight WPP AUNZ advertising agencies across both Australia and New Zealand.

These include Ogilvy, Y&R Group, J. Walter Thompson, WhiteGrey, The Brand Agency, Spinach, Assignment and IM Advertising.

CEO WPP AUNZ Mike Connaghan says the network needs its traditional ad agencies to continue to grow and transition their offer to remain strong communication partners to their clients.

“In order to drive and achieve our goal to deliver 100% of a client’s customer experience we need world class leaders at the helm of our business groups, Connaghan says.

“What has become increasingly clear to me is that not having a member of the executive committee much closer to, and focused on our advertising agencies, was a missed opportunity.”

The change in structure follows WPP shares dropping almost 13% last week and its market capitalisation plummeting US$2.6 billion after it reported flat results on Thursday.

The most successful agency groups offer "flexibility of structure"

Commenting on the 2017 results last week, CEO of WPP Sir Martin Sorrell admitted 2017 was “not a pretty year” for WPP, with flat like-for-like, top-line growth, and operating margins and operating profits also flat, or up marginally. 

“The major factors influencing this performance were probably the long-term impact of technological disruption and more the short-term focus of zero-based budgeters, activist investors and private equity than, we believe, the suggested disintermediation of agencies by Google and Facebook or digital competition from consultants,” Sorrell said. 

"In this environment, the most successful agency groups will be those who offer simplicity and flexibility of structure to deliver efficient, effective solutions – and therefore growth – for their clients. With this in mind, we are now accelerating the implementation of our strategy for the group.” 

Connaghan says Fox is an “outstanding individual with unrivalled creative and management credentials” and is the ideal person to lead the charge and move the ad agencies through their next growth phase.

“Foxy’s appointment will not only bring together specialist expertise and talent from across the ad agencies but allows for greater agility and ability for quick and informed decision-making. This is a serious appointment and I am delighted he has accepted the role,” Connaghan adds.

Fox started his career at Batey Kazoo in Sydney in 1995 before moving to Singleton Ogilvy and Mather in 1999, where he rose through the ranks to executive director of the Sydney agency in 2003.

In 2005 Fox was transferred to London to work on global clients for OgilvyAction, which then merged with G2 in 2013. He returned to Australia to take up the role of CEO Ogilvy Australia in 2014.

"When it comes to advertising and integrated brand communications, Australia is one of the most competitive, dynamic and creative markets in the world,” Fox says.

Fox’s new position is effective immediately, reporting directly to Connaghan and the WPP AUNZ Board.

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