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Ogilvy fires South East Asia CCO Ajab Samrai over ‘misconduct’ following internal investigation

Ogilvy fired its chief creative officer for South East Asia, Ajab Samrai, at the end of September over misconduct following an internal investigation – Mumbrella has learnt.

An internal memo to senior agency staff by Ogilvy Asia-Pacific co-chief executive officer Kent Wertime, seen by Mumbrella, stated: “As you know, we ask everyone in the company to commit to a code of conduct and to maintain the high standard of behaviour expected of Ogilvy’s employees.

“I was recently notified of a complaint about the behaviour of Ajab Samrai, chief creative officer, South Asia.

“Having investigated the complaint, and carefully reviewed the findings with outside counsel, we concluded that Ajab’s behaviour was in breach of his terms of employment and Ogilvy’s code of conduct.

“We have terminated his employment, effective immediately. We will be communicating further as necessary with various markets and Ogilvy teams regarding the creative responsibilities that Ajab has held to date.”

Samrai had been in the role since 2013, firstly being based in Japan and since January of this year being posted in Singapore. Prior to joining Ogilvy, he was with WPP and Saatchi & Saatchi in London.

Describing himself on his LinkedIn profile, Samrai says “when he’s not creating ideas you’ll find him pouring over heaps of dusty books researching his single greatest passion – he’s a global expert on Sikh period Indian painting from the 17th century”.

It is another blow for Ogilvy after the agency’s worldwide chief creative officer, the Singaporean Tham Khai Meng, was fired under similar circumstances in July. 

When asked by Mumbrella why the agency failed to make the information on Samrai public sooner, a spokesperson for Ogilvy said he was surprised “it took so long for media to pick up the departure”, adding: “These things usually have a way of going external pretty quickly once announcements are made, we assumed it would be in the public domain fairly quickly.

“Per the memo – we made quick decisions after an investigation with legal counsel, and our senior leadership across the region was sent that memo on the day of termination to share with local market teams.

“We’ve been prepared to share that memo externally ever since. There was no planned cover-up – you’ve just been the first person to actually ask.”

Samrai has been contacted for comment, but at the time of publication was not responding. 

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