After less than a year American ECD Chris Ford out as Moult makes sweeping changes at Ogilvy

chris_ford.gifUPDATED: Ogilvy & Mather's new executive chairman Tom Moult has made sweeping changes in both Sydney and Melbourne which includes the departure of Sydney executive creative director Chris Ford.

Ford (left) is returning to the US less than a year after being brought in from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco by Ogilvy's former managing director Mike Daniels, who quit Ogilvy in January this year, soon after the appointment of Moult.

Ford was supposed to bring Ogilvy out of the creative wilderness, having worked on the world's most awarded ad of 2009, the Comcast Rabbit commercial, and another example of his work - Saturn's 'Numbers' - has been archived in the Museum of Modern Art.

However, after nearly a year in the role, the work has not noticeably improved, reflecting the degree of difficulty of getting great work out of the suit-led culture at Ogilvy, which until lately did not enter award shows, a hangover from the John Singleton era.
Screen shot 2011-05-23 at 7.26.14 AM.jpgScreen shot 2011-05-23 at 7.59.20 AM.jpgThe departure of Ford comes as no surprise to some industry observers, echoing Publicis Mojo, Melbourne's appointment of American ECD Franklin Tipton, also from Goodby's San Francisco, who also left within a year.

While the search is on for Ford's replacement, Sydney office creative will continue to overseen by creative directors Andrew Ostrom (above left), Russel Smyth (above right) and others. Ostrom was appointed Sydney creative director in November last year, while Smyth joined in April 2010 as CD on Telstra, replacing Yanni Pounartzis who lasted on seven months in the role.

Screen shot 2011-05-23 at 10.39.02 AM.jpgJust over a week after news the departure of Ogilvy Melbourne ECD Michael Knox to Grey Melbourne, Moult has elevated Ogilvy Melbourne CEO Andrew Baxter (left) to Ogilvy Australia CEO based in Sydney, while current Sydney CEO Stuart O'Brien takes up the role of national chief strategy director.

Baxter will work closely with Moult to oversee the business from a national perspective. His remit covers all Ogilvy companies in Australia except Ogilvy PR.

Moult said Baxter's strong knowledge and proven experience in both the Sydney and Melbourne markets - having worked for seven years in Sydney, and 11 in Melbourne - would allow greater collaboration between the two offices, and provide clients with custom-built teams, the broadest range of disciplines and the most integrated solutions.

"Ogilvy Sydney and Melbourne are the leading agencies in both markets, and I'm looking forward to further evolving our offering and our work to ensure we continue to be the best partner for marketers into the future," says Baxter.

O'Brien will focus on solving clients' business issues. He will continue to play a major role with Ogilvy's key clients. He will also be exploring the potential for creating Ogilvy consulting services which have been successfully launched by Ogilvy in other markets.

Moult said while Ogilvy Sydney and Melbourne had seen four years of year-on-year growth across its local client base, and had more local business than any other agency group in the country, "we need to look to the future to ensure this success continues".

Other changes announced today include Neo@Ogilvy services in Melbourne and Sydney both coming under the leadership of Penny Davy.

Moult said that Ogilvy also intended to create a new, national Chief Creative Officer role. "This role will be the most expansive creative role in Australian advertising," Moult explained.

Current Ogilvy Sydney ECD Chris Ford will return to San Francisco for family reasons. Says Ford: "My family has not adjusted as well as we would have liked and wish to return to San Francisco. It was a great experience for all, and would not trade it for the world, but family comes first."

The agency has also appointed a new Head of Talent Management and Performance. This new role will head a team who will move the agency toward the goal of "having more of the better people than any other agency," Moult said. The new role will be dedicated to recruitment, career development and retention of staff.

At BADJAR Ogilvy in Melbourne Michael McEwan, Nick Muncaster and Andrew Egan will run the advertising agency as joint managing partners as Baxter expands his role to national CEO.

brian_Merrifield.jpegOther changes include the promotion of Brian Merrifield (left) to Digital Creative Director, replacing Chris James in the role, and Damian Damjanovski to Head of Digital Planning at Ogilvy Sydney.

Moult said of O'Brien: "Stuart O'Brien has been an outstanding CEO and takes on this new role with our blessing and best wishes. His passion is with solving business problems for clients, and looking for new service offerings, and his new role will allow him to focus on this."

23 Comments

Anonymous said:

Why is it that American ex-pats stay for such a short time? Chris Ford (Ogilvy) prior to that was Franklin Tipton (Mojos). Is it a Goodby thing? An Aussie thing? Maybe Dilallo can shed some light - he's the only stayer from the US??

Groucho said:

Oh dear, the beginning of another end. If only DO could see them now

Anonymous said:

Lets all laugh at Ogilvy

Anonymous said:

Another foreign CD bites the dust.

Anonymous said:

Sounds like a tom-moultuous affair

Anonymous said:

The fact that he is 'foreign' is irrelevant. He is from a creative lead
agency and Singo's is the opposite.

Why would the board risk changing a formula that (while producing some
of the worst ads in the country) is making a killing for them.

And the Moult agency or Euro were equally average in the work they produced.

Ozzie will be next to leave. Talent follows talent.

Anonymous said:

I can't work out whether he looks like The Fonz or Vinnie Barbarino.

Anonymous said:


ahhh, that explains the long face..

Anonymous said:

I agree with 10:22. They make crap ads that don't win awards - whatever! They make great returns. Every agency has a position and they are yes men to multi-nationals. There is a space for that in advertising hell clients want to pay top dollar for that service. Just employ typists instead of copywriters and make even more bucks. Ogilvy your clients want yes-men. Just be good at it - don't take on capabilities that you don't have or that your customers don't want

Anonymous said:

Why are we always hiring over seas talent lets give the local guys a go. I am sure they are just as good if not better.

Anonymous said:

What did Moult bring to the Euro group in Australia? Certainly not a "great creativity mantra". Back to the old Singo's "Okay is okay", and take the money and run.

Tartan said:

Tartan tartan tartan

Anonymous said:

I think you'll find the reason for their changes were that they weren't making pitch lists. The life blood of any agency is new business. They needed to change the work to have people knocking on their door again. There's always clients even in their that will say yes to good ideas, it's just a matter of having the goods to make sure those ideas live. Good luck Ogilvy. There seems to be an injection of new blood and an investment in junior talent. If they can start to do better work from the ground up that's a good start.
Keep your head down Ogilvy. Nobody is really killing it out there at the moment.

GET A LIFE said:

Hmmm...yes 11.01, and you would be???? Clearly you are a formidable talent who is qualified to shit all over everybody else, working for an agency who pays no heed to the fact that we are in business to make money....oh no, you are in it for the "art". Or are you just an embittered, unemployed twat who has a grudge against Ogilvy because you were sacked from Singos over 4 years ago.? There is plenty of you out there. The Ogilvy-bashing is getting boring...move on.

Anonymous said:

@9.19am. That's gold. One of the comments of the year.

Anonymous said:

Bring back Brucy...

Anonymous said:

The reason why Chris didn't work out at Ogilvy Australia is the reason why Nick Cave doesn't sell many CD's to the Australian Idol crowd.

Anonymous said:

12:28 you have assumed that I was being sarcastic. I'm not. Ogilvy's offering is completely valid. Not all clients want cutting edge creative in fact most don't want creative at all.

Anonymous said:


Jerry Seinfeld meets John Travolta.

Anonymous said:

Square peg. Round hole. This is not a criticism of either the peg or the hole.

I do criticize for any agency that thinks they can radically change their creative output just by changing the CD - and nothing else. The work comes from the agency, not the CD.

Anonymous said:

Remember kids, in advertising, karma is surprisingly swift.

Anonymous said:

Some group heads will be really upset. All that Boring brown nosing for nothing.

Anonymous said:

Congratulation to Ogilvy top brass. What a brilliant job they've done. Made the catastrophic loss of their three top creative leaders - Chris Ford, Michael Knox and Chris James - look like they planned it. Awesome work. But completely untrue. They all resigned.
Now they'll have to tell their clients that they have even fewer of the most talented people in the business.

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