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Charlotte Beers’ Leadership at Ogilvy & Mather Agency Case Study

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Updated: Nov 23rd, 2020

Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide is the sixth largest advertising, marketing, and public relations agency in the world. It has received multiple awards for its work, including awards for the progressive management of programs supporting working parents (“Ogilvy & Mather North America” par. 1). Founded in 1948 by David Ogilvy, the agency has made substantial progress in recent years.

Vision Assessment

David Ogilvy’s initial idea was to create an atmosphere of innovation and excitement (“Ogilvy & Mather. Corporate Culture” par. 1). Eventually, the following vision was formulated: “To be the agency most valued by those who most value brands” (Ibarra & Sackley 18). The teachings of David Ogilvy were indicated as a timeless inspiration for the agency’s work. The defined vision is clear and easily relates to the main strategy of the agency, called Brand Stewardship.

The latter is meant to reinforce the system of creating, developing, and boosting profitable brands. The most crucial values that serve as guidelines for the agency’s work were identified as well. They include the work of the Brand Teams and encouraging creativity, curiosity, the highest professional standards, and discipline while distinguishing between confidence and arrogance and holding consumers in high esteem (Ibarra & Sackley 18).

The vision and core values formulated by Ogilvy & Mather were meant to reinforce the chosen strategy, providing efficient guidelines and a creative credo. The agency defined three principal strategies that were closely tied to its vision statement. These strategies included “Client Security,” “Better Work, More Often,” and “Financial Discipline” (Ibarra & Sackley 9). However, these strategic declarations were rather preliminary as the Brand Stewardship strategy emerged later on, which was intertwined with the formulated vision and aligned with the company’s goals.

The agency’s internal stakeholders include the board of directors (i.e., regional chairpersons) as well as investors. External stakeholders include customers, creditors, and other interested parties. The developed vision statement efficiently addresses the needs of both external and internal stakeholders.

Vision-Creating Process

With the “Brand Stewardship” creative vision formulated, it was crucial for the company to make a collective effort toward implementing the necessary changes and developing a strategy for putting the vision into practice. The board of directors participated in the process as well as eight local presidents. The people involved recall the meetings devoted to developing an implementation plan being frustrating and resembling an impasse.

Eventually, the group was divided into several sub-groups, with each of them charged with a specific task pertaining to vision crafting. One sub-group was supposed to come up with a specific wording of the vision. The second sub-group was charged with developing the values and linking them to the overall agency outlook, while the third sub-group was to develop the communication plan for all levels of the company (Ibarra & Sackley 11). The last group was charged with the task of creating models for the consistent structure of systems and incentives aimed at reinforcing the new vision statement.

A buy-in was created due to the personal involvement of Charlotte Beers, who demonstrated a highly efficient leadership style (Ibarra & Sackley 13). One of the executives admitted that everyone who eventually bought in was convinced to do so by Beers in person. As a CEO of the agency, she displayed a profound understanding of the processes the company was running and the changes it was going to implement as well as the determined goals. Beers is considered to be an inspirational and strong leader whose level of involvement and commitment is second to none.

The resistance to the proposed changes was substantial but manageable. It came predominantly from employees dealing with the creative aspects of the process. Ibarra and Sackley emphasize that despite an enthusiastic reaction of the clients, the atmosphere in the agency was rather skeptical and reserved (12). The Brand Stewardship strategy was not grasped immediately, and its benefits were to be further elaborated in order to drum up support on all levels of the company.

This problem interfered with efficient client service as some employees were at a loss when clients expected to be offered a new BrandPrint, as they did not yet have a deep understanding of the idea. However, Beers thought that a greater degree of proficiency would not always guarantee efficient collective work nor eliminate resistance. Other employees were in doubt regarding the Brand Stewardship’s relevance. Overall, the problem was solved due to Charlotte Beers’ efforts aimed at communicating the main ideas effectively to all levels of the agency structure.

John Kotter and the Eight Stages of Change

John Kotter believed that change was a complicated process that required a division into several parts of implementation. Moreover, the efficiency of this process is dependent on the leadership rather than on the management (Jack Welch Management Institute 5). The third and the fourth stages, i.e., developing a vision and strategy and communicating the change vision (Kotter 21), were implemented efficiently by the agency.

Vision and strategy development were hindered by the factors mentioned above, but overall, it is possible to assess this stage of implementation positively. Despite a certain degree of resistance and due to the collective effort and Beers’ leadership skills, a clear vision statement was formulated along with a strategy that complemented and activated that vision. The fourth stage of communicating the change vision was implemented effectively due to Beers’ personal involvement and commitment to the issue.

However, the fifth and the seventh stages of change implementation (i.e., empowering employees for broad-based action and consolidating gains and producing more change) could use some improvement. The problem with empowering employees lies in the centralized structure of the decision-making process. Teamwork seems to be insufficiently developed as, despite the fact that the meetings and discussion take place, a vast majority of decisions are made by Beers (Ibarra & Sackley 15).

There is a lack of understanding and excessive reserve between members of the group. Thus, it not only affects communication strategies but also curtails potential disagreements that might lead to developing new solutions. The seventh stage of consolidating gains and producing more change is hindered by the lack of developed practices pertaining to the Brand Stewardship strategy. According to Ibarra and Sackley, properly developed structures, remuneration, working practices, and a motivational system are all yet to be implemented in accordance with the Brand Stewardship principles (14).

Moreover, problems emerged related to the fee allocations between local offices and the Worldwide Client Service. All these factors constitute obstacles for the proper implementation of changes in the fifth and the seventh stages.


The basic principles of Ogilvy and Mather are creativity and efficiency (“Why Choose Ogilvy & Mather?” par. 1). Due to her profound knowledge of advertising and public relations, as well as her extensive experience in the field, Charlotte Beers managed to revitalize the agency. Despite certain shortcomings, Ogilvy and Mather remains a successful and prolific agency.

Works Cited

Ibarra, Herminia, and Nicole Sackley. . 2011. Web.

Jack Welch Management Institute. Organizational Change and Culture. Web.

Kotter, John P. Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business Press, 1996. Print.

Ogilvy & Mather. Corporate Culture. Web.

Ogilvy & Mather North America Named to 2016 Working Mother “100 Best Companies”. Web.

Why Choose Ogilvy & Mather?. Web.

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