Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide
Harvard Business School 9-495-031 Rev. October 12, 1999 Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (A) It was December 1993, and during the past year and a half, Charlotte Beers had found little time for reflection. Since taking over as CEO and chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in 1992, Beers had focused all her efforts on charting a new course for the world’s sixth-largest advertising agency. The process of crafting a vision with her senior management team had been—by all accounts—painful, messy, and chaotic. Beers, however, was pleased with the results.
Ogilvy & Mather was now committed to becoming “the agency most valued by those who most value brands. ” During the past year, the agency had regained, expanded, or won several major accounts. Confidence and energy appeared to be returning to a company the press had labeled “beleaguered” only two years earlier. Yet, Beers sensed that the change effort was still fragile. “Brand Stewardship,” the agency’s philosophy for building brands, was not well understood below the top tier of executives who had worked with Beers to develop the concept.
In 1950, Ogilvy’s campaign for Hathaway featured a distinguished man with a black eye patch, an idea that increased sales by 160% 1David Ogilvy, Blood, Beer, and Advertising (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977). Research Associate Nicole Sackley prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Herminia Ibarra as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Copyright © 1995 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
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Other famous campaigns included Maxwell House’s “Good to the Last Drop” launched in 1958 and American Express’s “Don’t Leave Home Without It,” which debuted in 1962. Gentlemen with Brains David Ogilvy imbued his agency’s culture with the same “first class” focus that he demanded of creative work. Employees were “gentlemen with brains,” treating clients, consumers, and one another with respect. “The consumer is not a moron,” admonished Ogilvy. In a distinctly British way, collegiality and politeness were highly valued: “We abhor ruthlessness.