Ogilvy announced that Devika Bulchandani has joined the agency as CEO for North America and global chairperson for advertising. The move ends an impressive 26-year tenure with McCann, deviating from her role as McCann’s President for North America.
Bulchandani reports to CEO Andy Main and is charged with driving Ogilvy’s business in the US and Canada. Her remit spans the agency’s entire business, including advertising, brand and content, experience, growth, innovation, and healthcare practice.
When Bulchandani noticed the move to Ogilvy, she realized she was going through an “existential reckoning” as her entire career would have been with an agency. This idea made her “soul and ears open for a jump”.
The agency’s legacy was a big part of the appeal to join Ogilvy for Bulchandani. The chance to help shape it for the future, as well as Main’s vision and plans for the agency, also played a role in her decision.
“When Andy called, there was something poetic and powerful to be in one of the most famous agencies in the industry, to keep your creativity and carry it into the future,” said Bulchandani.
Preserving the agency’s heritage is critical to Main. But he also pointed out the equally urgent need to point the agency to the next chapter and at the same time achieve high growth for customers.
“Since David Ogilvy started this agency, other people’s businesses have grown,” said Main, who joined Deloitte Digital as CEO in June. “We will continue to have the best creativity on the planet with the best rate of value added. And this is where we push the boundaries of competition to win. “
Bulchandani has a deep strategic background. She joined McCann New York’s strategy department in 1997 and was instrumental in making Mastercard’s “Priceless” campaign one of the best-known brand platforms. Bulchandani rose quickly and in 2012 co-founded McCann XBC, the group dedicated to Mastercard. In 2017 she switched to the role of New York President.
During her tenure, McCann had a number of creative hits alongside Mastercard, perhaps none of which were more prominent than Fearless Girl for State Street Global Advisors. In 2019, another strong brand presence resulted in the agency being named Adweek’s Global Agency of the Year.
“I think about creativity across the marketing value chain because every conversation with customers is a strategic one,” said Bulchandani. “My strategic background also helps with creative talents. Creative people are the most interesting people in humanity, and it’s important to be able to translate things and get the best out of them, ”she said, noting her time with creative minds like Rob Reilly, Joyce King Thomas and others.
Like many agencies, Ogilvy suffered layoffs and vacation days due to the pandemic, which outgoing CEO John Seifert (who will retire next year) attributed to client volatility.
According to Main, the rebuilding of Ogilvy’s talent pool has signaled that the agency is much more proactive about business growth, looking for talent who “represent that mission” and are open to all areas of the business.
“Talents will see that they can build a career path that is different from a traditional agency,” he said, noting that unlike consulting firms who try to target every part of the agency, the agency has a unique focus on client growth by their performance, the business has become a brand.
“We will be a really good alternative for growth compared to the current vendors in the market,” added Main. “In consulting firms, you need maturity models and process frameworks that take months to apply, and it just takes too long to develop ideas for growth. Ogilvy can come up with ideas quickly because of his creative talent. “