by Herman Manson (@marklives) Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town has set about a major internal restructuring process that aims to reorientate the agency and the way it operates. The new structure does away with the siloed approach to specialist skills and accounts management as it merges creative studios and account teams across its various specialist agencies and departments, including PR and digital.

Luca Gallarelli
Luca Gallarelli

When the agency set out to build out its specialist skills in 2014, explains managing director Luca Gallarelli, it actively pursued a level of independence in the specialist teams in a bid to attract both talent and clients.

Clients were shopping for agencies by specialisation, and talent wanted to own a stake in the business units they were building. Each unit had its own identity, management team, client roster and KPIs, even as they sat inside Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town.

The result? Three profit and loss (P&L) centres, 22 departments and multiple management teams. Different systems and processes developed inside each unit, adding an additional layer of complexity to the business.

“Clarify, Simplify, Unify”

When John Seifert, Ogilvy worldwide CEO, made a call to “Clarify, Simplify, Unify” — a call for all disciplines and Ogilvy brands to unify under a single Ogilvy umbrella — it immediately resonated with Gallarelli and his team in Cape Town. “What I have personally always loved about our best campaigns was the fact that they were difficult to define by discipline or category,” says Gallarelli. “We fundamentally believed that our future would lie in a structure that deployed this kind of thinking across more, more often, faster, and with greater ease for agency staff and clients alike.”

Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town operating modelAccording to Gallarelli, his team had seen dramatic shifts in client behaviour since attention has moved from seeking specialist skills to efficiencies as procurements departments have become more involved in the agency/client relationship. A steering team to drive a unified agency offering was assembled, and it designed a new structure that has lead to a single P&L and management team, anchored by four quadrants (client interface, delivery, strategy and creative) and four support functions (finance, marketing, IT and HR).

Client interface sees 30 clients clustered and led by six teams, each headed up by a managing partner partnered with a creative lead. “Clients are now organised into portfolios that make the most sense for them and their requirements of us,” explains Gallarelli. “Existing specialist unit MDs (PR and digital) [will] assume the role of portfolio leads on two of those six portfolios, each containing their former ‘pure-play’ clients plus more who naturally orientate themselves to these disciplines, and populated with staffers who are better cast to deliver against our and our clients ambitions.” Managing partners may access anybody in the agency as per client requirements.

Combined studio

Creative sees a combined studio under the leadership of executive creative director, Tseliso Rangaka, supported by Nic Wittenberg in the newly created role of associate executive creative director. The studio is configured into teams reflecting the client mix, with Melissa Attree, head of content and PR creative director, leading a portfolio of PR-orientated clients alongside Carlos Carrasco, who leads the digital and UX team.

Strategy, under the leadership of Kristel van der Vliet, has seen a single, integrated team established, including numerous specialists (such as data and insights) who now have access to a broader resource. Delivery focuses on production, which has seen a new systems backbone deployed in Workbook. Previously, Chase had been deployed — agency management software which, Gallarelli says, no longer suited the restructured work model. Workbook has been customised for the agency and is designed to support its operations; it becomes an enabler but sits in the background. Management software is no longer a hurdle holding back operations.

“We needed to find a system that would seamlessly connect all our disciplines and departments, allowing them to behave in an agile and collaborative manner,” says Gallarelli, “a system that would facilitate, not impede, communication. Critical in achieving this is the reduction of admin time, with focus on shifting time, energy and focus significantly towards our work and clients; this [has been] be our highest priority. In addition, we wanted a system that would deliver a state-of-the-art user experience for our employees. In other words, a system built for tomorrow and not over-reliant on yesterday’s thinking.


“After a global search, Workbook presented such a solution: a product created by a company headquartered in Denmark from where they serve and service many other global clients. We have worked with the team from Workbook over the last 18 months to tailor the system to our specific context and requirements, resulting in a truly bespoke system.”

Workbook, continues Gallarelli, comes with a long list of features, facilitating an efficient flow of jobs and work through the agency, including job creation and management; project management tools tailored to its project management methodologies; in-depth resource management capability; easy-to-use financial control tools with real-time tracking of job progress, resources deployed and time spent to date; and modern and easy-to-use features that enable better and more efficient communication (eg chats, document share, etc).

Workbook lives in the cloud, which allows staff to access it from anywhere, either via the site or its mobile app. “This allows us to remain fully connected, all of the time.”

Delivery a priority

Delivery is a priority for Ogilvy Cape Town; clients are taking issue with agencies’ inability “to get stuff done on time and on budget,” according to Gallarelli. The industry often lacks proper oversight and control, and the notion of traffic has become archaic. “With responsibilities for delivering complex integrated projects effectively shared by account management, traffic, and specialist producers, it often falls on the shoulder of account management to hold it all together; this often sets them up as the enemies of both internal and external stakeholders. The answer was to completely reframe what we meant when we spoke of delivery. Delivery in our world [has] become an ‘end-to-end’ process that include[s] anything that happen[s], from the moment a brief lands to when work is produced and deployed. Under the leadership of Daniel Menges as our newly appointed head of delivery [formerly MD of OgilvyOne Cape Town], we have built a professional ‘project management office’ that includes all project managers, resourcing (formerly traffic), specialist producers and any internal production capability that exists.”

Gallarelli talks of an agnostic delivery team that sits inside client account teams. with traffic becoming a resourcing function that looks at organisational and account capacity.

The agency has reconfigured its building to reflect its new structure and do away with what Gallarelli refers to as ‘tribalist departments’. Management has moved down to the third floor, alongside the creative department, to force greater movement between the different floors.

Resolving organisational anxiety

The previous, complicated structure had been impacting on operational complexity, he says. “With P&L complexity come a matrix of reporting lines and with it, at times, conflicting agendas.” The new model resolves a lot of this organisational anxiety.

While the agency has been relatively quick to implement the new model, for Gallarelli, this is a multi-year project that will see the agency continue to evolve over the next five years. Ultimately, its aim is to create an agency nimble enough to respond quickly and efficiently to client needs, to inspire greater creativity inside the agency, and more opportunities for people to collaborate. Traffic as gatekeeper disappears, and a more-direct relationship is established with clients.

Rangaka says the new model creates a balance between the need for efficiency and the required chaos needed in an agency to produce creative work. Inside the studio, he ensures team members are the right fit for client work, with teams clustered around brands. Senior people have the opportunity to guide juniors, and junior team members have the opportunity to engage more regularly with clients. Team members are up-skilling as team expertise now bridge media. He and other creative leaders also have greater access to financial information inside the agency; they know how much revenue an account generates and what their budgets are for placing personnel inside the different teams.

Truly modern

“This is the largest structural undertaking by the agency in well over a decade,” says Gallarelli, done in an effort to meet Ogilvy’s own ambition to be a truly modern agency, configured in a thoroughly reimagined way, underpinned by new systems, processes and personnel to deliver against what the agency has determined are the fundamentals of modern marketing. “With this move, we have made a significant step towards achieving the stated ambition of ourselves, our people and, most importantly, our clients.”


Herman Manson 2017Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of

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