Ogilvy's expansive network moves at the speed of culture, creating tailored meaningful experiences and ‘always-on’ brand platforms. Liam Parker, Global Client Lead for WPP Open X at Ogilvy, speaks on their ability to seamlessly connect the best people, capabilities, and resources to deliver innovative ideas at scale.
Can you give us a brief overview of your structure and some of the clients with whom you work across more than one geography / location?
I’m the Global Client Lead at Ogilvy for WPP Open X, the dedicated team at WPP created for The Coca-Cola Company. This unprecedented global network-to-network model delivers work for 200 brands across 195 countries. I have the privileged role of unleashing Ogilvy’s superpower in WPP Open X - seamlessly connecting the best people, capabilities, and resources to deliver brave ideas at scale.
I’ve led global teams for IBM, Instagram, and SC Johnson and learnt there isn’t a universal approach or structure to manage a global business. We adapt how we operate based on our clients’ goals and priorities. Some global organizations want a centralized model to foster global cohesion and operational efficiency. Others lean toward decentralization, prioritizing local relevance with a very targeted strategy for the market.
What are the challenges of working with different cultures across diverse regions, on both the agency side and the client side?
The challenges working with different cultures and regions are shared problems to solve for agencies and clients. It’s vital we all recognize, understand, and celebrate local nuances and diverse perspectives. Establishing trust and rapport across a global team is challenging and takes time but is so important to create bold and impactful work.
Working with Coca-Cola, we’re challenged by different local purchasing experiences and consumption patterns. To solve for this, we’re investing in data to get to culturally relevant insights - finding true relevancy that leads us to create meaningful experiences tailored to the market.
Today brands need to move at the speed of culture. As their agency partner, we need to embrace this challenge with a future-forward marketing approach that’s constantly experimenting and learning fast. We’re moving with greater agility and building ‘always-on’ brand platforms for Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta and Powerade based on social listening and cultural moments.
Another challenge is achieving creativity at scale. I like to call this, “local ideas that travel” when we support local innovation but leverage it in other markets to create worldwide connected and consistent campaigns.
How has the aftermath of the pandemic affected the functionality of the network and the way you work?
The pandemic taught me that to succeed you must commit to empathy. Empathy for our clients’ aspirations and daily challenges plus empathy for our close-to-home colleagues and teams all around the world. Empathy leads to authentic relationships and enables us to do the best work of our lives.
The pandemic has also given us an opportunity to build better agency network culture to benefit ourselves and our clients – at Ogilvy we call this ‘Borderless Creativity’. Our hybrid working environment balances connecting in the office to collaborate and celebrate, while maintaining flexibility with trust and accountability.
Can you give us an example of a campaign that defines the benefits the network brings to its clients?
I have three.
The first-ever global brand platform we created as WPP Open X led by Ogilvy for Sprite last year. ‘Heat Happens’ showcased how our partnership with The Coca-Cola Company can create a globally consistent while locally relevant consumer experience in over 200 markets.
"Inconvenience" | Sprite, Heat Happens
"Oh Brother" | Sprite, Heat Happens
For The Coca-Cola Company’s sports drink Aquarius, the challenge was to create a unified brand platform for three very disparate and nuanced markets - Japan, Spain, and Africa. ‘Sweat is Beautiful’ was the outcome of a deep understanding of each individual market combined with a multi-market strategy. The thinking was focused on finding commonality and shared values and bringing these to life in a brave idea that changed perceptions.
"Sweat is Beautiful"
Finally, Dove. Ogilvy’s 66-year partnership with Dove is an industry leading example of a success agency and client partnership and what our network can bring to a brand. From championing self-esteem in the groundbreaking Campaign For Real Beauty that turns 20 next year, to more recent campaigns like #BlackHairIsProfessional and #TurnYourBack that are creating movements and inciting action.