retired from O&M in December,
2013, after 40 years in advertising.
This is an excerpt from his speech
at O&M NY’s 2013 holiday party.
peopledon’t retire from
Advertising today – they
drop out to recover
from their wounds.
because I’m about to retire,
I’m going to share 3 easy-to-remember career
strategies with you. Don’t worry, I’ll be quick.
Forty years ago,
on August 1st, I started on my career ladder as an Assistant Account Exec at a Boston direct marketing
agency. 5 years landed me in Advertising at BBDO Atlanta on Delta Air Lines. I thought Advertising would be better.
But in those days there were 120,000 account people in the US advertising agency industry compared with only
10,000 in direct marketing. So on my next campaign, I tried to get back in line on the smaller competitive ladder.
Ogilvy Direct in New York flew me up for interviews on their TWA airline account. I met with my potential boss,
her boss, and his uber-boss. Everything went well – but I didn’t get it. Because I was a direct marketer who also
knew advertising, the CEO of the agency aimed me higher. Would we mind staying in Atlanta to join the new Ogilvy
Advertising and PR offices there? My job would to open a new O&M Direct office. He thought my dual background
would make me a better collaborator. As I went up to the 1982 Christmas Party in New York as an office head that
year, I realized I was now in some crazy sense “senior” to all those bosses I had interviewed with trying to get into
the TWA group.
So here are some career strategies:
Make a new move to CRM. Or, if you are in CRM now, try to
move to PR. Then, Consulting or activation. Or any combination of those
moves. Because each new discipline you learn makes you a rarer bird and
way ahead of everyone back where you started.
Get out of town
I’ve noticed many Americans think the USA
is the only game. International opened everything up for me. From
Ogilvy Atlanta, I went to O&M Direct London. People in all our European offices
became colleagues and friends. Then I came back to New York to work on Global
accounts and for the next 20 years went all around the world with American
Express and IBM. It was great.
Don’t throw us away with some silly career
move down the road. You may think other agencies are like us –
they’re not. Someone may offer you more money; more money will come to you here as well.
Don’t leave because your current boss is an idiot. Leave them behind. Maybe you can come
back and fire them later.
And, if you play it right, one day you could be running the place –- the world’s most
creative and effective agency – David Ogilvy’s agency.
And that wouldn’t be a bad way to end up.