The Disruption In Our Industry, It’s Manic, Says Ogilvy CEO


“The pace of change, the disruption in our industry, it’s manic,” says  Ogilvy Global CEO John Seifert. “We’re all trying to get our arms around it. The hope I have for convening moments like Cannes is the clients and their partners in tech and creative communications and data start to come together and work harder as partners to design the models of the future.”

John Seifert, Global CEO of Ogilvy, discusses how technology such as AI is disrupting the advertising industry in an interview on CNBC International on location in Cannes:

The Disruption In Our Industry, It’s Manic

The pace of change, the disruption in our industry, it’s manic. We’re all trying to get our arms around it. The hope I have for convening moments like Cannes is the clients and their partners in tech and creative communications and data start to come together and work harder as partners to design the models of the future. 

Some have predicted AI will eliminate jobs or reframe jobs that require intense new levels of training. So far that is not the challenge we’ve had. It’s really about how do we think about the impact AI can make in making work and doing better work and getting insights that we can translate throughout marketing and communications. It’s additive at the moment, at least for us and for our business. I think it’s like everything else in life. These things are changing, they’re very dynamic, and how we apply and learn them in real time with clients on everyday big important challenges is going to be critical.

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Generation of People In Our Company Who Are Thirsty For the Change

We’re just trying to get everybody very externally focused. We’ve had a couple of years in our transformation. We did a lot of change on the inside that was obviously disruptive for people, unsettling sometimes and makes you insecure. But there is a generation of people in our company now who are thirsty for the change and want to apply it. We’re at that moment of transition now where a lot of the what I call, rewiring the company, is done. Now it’s about how do we work together differently? How do we execute to a new level of ambition that our clients are asking for? Then frankly, how do we show the accountability of that work through better results?

I’ve said to everyone in the company, in fact, I just came from talking to someone who’s reinvented a service model in Singapore for one of our largest clients, that you just have to get to the coalface of experiencing what people who are driving change are going through every day. Then frankly, my job is to just take the noise and the pain out of the process, the more that I can be serving them, making it easier for them to get what they need in the company. We’re a global company of 14,000 people. We have tremendous assets but sometimes people find that hard to navigate. My job is to make sure that they can navigate it easily, get the tools they need and feel the support that they have from me to just get on with it.

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We’ve Got To Prove That What We Do Matters

We have to get back to revenue growth in the range of two to five percent. We’re a big company, we’re a $1.7 billion business. We’ve got to get out of the flat era and get back to sustainable growth. We’re going to do that I think fundamentally by reinventing our model to serve clients more effectively and efficiently so they want to spend more and do more things that the marketing environment right now calls for. I’m hugely optimistic about the future but we’ve got to continue to prove that what we do matters to clients and building their brands.

The Disruption In Our Industry, It’s Manic, Says Ogilvy CEO John Seifert



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