Opinion

The man with two jobs: David Mayo on why Asia’s most famous agency brand needs a CMO

David MayoDavid Mayo, CEO of Bates CHI & Partners, was just handed the additional responsibility of heading up marketing for Asia’s most famous agency brand, WPP sister network Ogilvy & Mather, and starts on 1 March.

Why does Ogilvy APAC need a CMO, why does Bates no longer needs a fulltime CEO, and what is the perception of Ogilvy in the market asked Mumbrella Asia’s editor Robin Hicks in a phone conversation yesterday afternoon.

David, why does Ogilvy need a CMO?

If you remember back in time I was doing marketing for Ogilvy previously, before the Bates job [Mayo was, besides being president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising ASEAN, also Asia marketing director Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific until taking the Bates job in 2012]. Back then, Ogilvy was very clearly differentiated as the agency that had everything in-house and could lace it all together. Three years on, the world has become a lot more complex.

An interesting reference point is PwC’s global CEO survey, which came out in January. There are five key themes in the report, the last one being navigating complexity. A lot of the clients Ogilvy talks to share this concern.

Ogilvy is peaking with its end-to-end service proposition. Paul Heath [Ogilvy APAC chairman] has done a great job of building a consulting offering in Ogilvy RED, and a delivery end [with production arm H+O] – and in the middle are some brilliant tools to help clients navigate modern marketing. CEOs are asking for it, Ogilvy has it to sell.

Clients are trying to navigate this fragmented new world. It’s about placing bets in the right places. What’s the right blend and combination? That story needs to be told. I think Ogilvy can prove that if there can be one seamless path and one process, and there are efficiencies within that.

We’re not setting ourselves up as a consultancy, but the spenders, whether that’s the CTO, CMO or CEO, very often want to talk to someone about how to lace it together. Ogilvy has an opportunity to reassert itself as an agency that can choreograph the complex into a simple proposition.

What do you think the perception is of Ogilvy right now in the market?

Having been at Bates I can look at Ogilvy in a more objective way, which is partly why I’ve swung towards this role. Ogilvy is still the agency people always thought it was. It is the best agency. It’s pretty efficient. And it’s a big agency.

For a long time, big has been seen as the enemy of creative or effective or efficient. Ogilvy is a proper business services firm. It’s an ad agency, but it is a business. That’s where it is at the moment.

We’ve still got people coming to us to learn the craft, from all over the world, to share what they do, for instance data scientists. The investment the agency has made in specialist services then needs to be taken to market by ‘horizontal’ people who know how to put it all together.
Ogilvy needs to be a brand that is known and defaulted to, but also a brand people swing towards.

I’ve been amazed by how much Ogilvy has invested in modern marketing techniques – consulting, data, analytics, and how the company can fit it all together. There are many interesting pieces, such as Neo@Ogilvy, the media-inside agency, it’s an awesome offer. But do we internally know how good it is, and does the market?

There’s a lot more Ogilvy can do to get up and close and personal with the people who can benefit from working with it most, be that an employee, a client or a CEO, who might want a chat about how to navigate complexity.

What about wearing many hats? How can you be both a CEO and a CMO?

That’s a lot simpler to answer. Having worked at Ogilvy, a lot of people wear many hats. It’s a cleverly set up matrix organisational structure, where people are supported by lots of other people. You have a responsibility for a certain part of the business, but there are other people to help you meet your objectives.

I’ll keep going at Bates. We’ve had great successes over the last 18 months. 2015 was a good work, culture, people and money year. All the trains arrived at the same time. But I’d always said that it was a five-year gig, and then with the management structure in place more responsibility can be shared. In the three years I’ve been doing this job, we’ve developed managers in the local markets. It’s a lot more accountable, profitable and battle-ready. At the beginning, it was an eight days a week job, now it’s brought down to five days a week.

What’s the relationship between Bates CHI & Partners and Ogilvy in Asia within WPP, how does the reporting structure work?

The corporate strategy is one company, two brands. That came in in when WPP acquired the business [WPP acquired Bates’ former owner Cordiant in 2003]. Bates’ P&L goes through the Ogilvy P&L.

I’ve made sure over the last few years that Bates and Ogilvy are a lot closer from a management perspective. We work harder on sharing clients, talent, skills, and the most obvious thing is sharing finance. That’s where efficiencies have come from.

How much of your time will be spent between the two jobs?

The job of any person in a role like this is to carefully control how you spend your time. I quite like wearing two hats. Previously I ran Coke and Diageo, the agency’s marketing, and had a hand in recruitment. I’m quite used to doing the multiple thing. but with any such role, you have to have a plan.

Part of that is developing a focused marketing plan [for Ogilvy] to impact the business and create growth within it. But it’s not all up to me. My job is to create the right environment for a competitive edge, basically. Once everyone understands what the plan is, you can bake some of that thinking into what people are already doing. Though it’s not been written down yet, the messaging will be around solving complexity.

Day to day [at Bates], I’m going to to have to be more of a delegator and a sharer. I think I was that before, but I need to give other people the chance to step up.

When you perform a turnaround you have to be in everything. After three years, you’ve seen the bags under my eyes! I’ve got to delegate more, and share a little bit of the love. That said, I’m not walking off the reservation, my job isn’t done yet.

Will this mean promotions for others?

Anyone who was GM was pushed up to MD [when Mayo took the CEO job at Bates]. I’ve never really known what the difference is [between GM and MD] anyway. In markets like the Philippines and Vietnam, you should see the growth [since these promotions]. Manila was struggling three years ago and now it is one of the hottest agencies in town. They’re not just in pitches, they’re in the news. Vietnam has also been performing miracles. They’re quieter, but have morphed into a fantastic digital agency. The last four wins have been big local digital assignments, and from serious clients.

From GMs being made into an MDs, we’ve seen the business double two years later. You grow into the role. I have said it’s your game, you’re in the water, you will swim.

On further appointments, we won’t make any big decisions now. There’s plenty of opportunity with existing responsibilities. It has to be really necessary if you do it. Now, we’ve got a good club of well motivated people running the agencies. It really feels like a network, which was the mission when we started out.

With less of your time spent as CEO, won’t you need someone at regional MD level at Bates?

One of our business thrusts is to increase the number of network clients we have, which include AIA, Pizza Hut and Pernod Ricard. The job has been to increase our involvement in those businesses around the region. But name me one client who wants a network agency. They take time, they’re hard work. If there were more big businesses that needed a network, as oppose to their equivalent in a local market, then we’d have to take a call on that.

Every time we take on a piece of business, we’ve worked on it as a group. When we won Pizza Hut in Manila, the guys from China came down to make sure they were up to speed with everything. When we won AIA in Singapore, the guys from Hong Kong and Vietnam came down and got involved. That’s bottom up growth. If AIA said we want to hire you for everything everywhere then, sure, we’d need a regional head. I’ve done my level best to make this a ground-up business, with proper local management, people it really matters to, people who go to work really believing in what they’re doing.

There is a perception that Ogilvy hasn’t been performing as well as it has done in the past in some markets. Is your appointment about helping to reinvigorate the agency?

Ogilvy has had three really good years on every level. I think it’s about Ogilvy making sure people don’t rest on their laurels. We’ve got to dig even deeper to go even further.

Is your role also about “horizontality”, Sir Martin Sorrell’s idea of getting WPP group companies to work better together?

Yes, it’s exactly that. Bates’ has done well from the positioning around the power of &. We’ve done it on a Bates-sized scale, so now let’s do it on an Ogilvy-sized scale.

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