Passion, Balance & Hobbies

By Johnell Woody

Ogilvy, Brussels

“Bring out the best” is one of many company catch phrases hanging or painted on walls.  A large poster featuring the company name sake greets visitors. If clothes make the man, the non-verbals set the tone of for this agency.

The red and black color scheme screams softly of power and poise.  Contradiction in terms you say?  Not really.  Ogilvey clients include the EU Commission and the Council, many top brands, and individuals.  Not withstanding the clientele, there is an Apple-like atmosphere in the reception area.  The bare concrete interior says all business and tough, the two-story windows suggest an openness and willingness to take risks.  A long narrow high-top counter with a good number of tall bar chairs on each side permit intimate, although not overly private chats.  A red punching bag, a pool table, and a few of the more recent awards, a conservation pit and sparse furnishings complete the expansive, open reception area. From the entry area translucent red walls partially enclosing a work or office area are visible on the mezzanine level. There is little more powerful than openness, expanse, and confidence; the unspoken statement made at the door.

2013-6-11 JWW at Ogilvy PR Brussels

An Maes, our speaker, has just returned to Ogilvy Group in upper management after having left to go independent fifteen years ago. There is no doubt she enjoys her work and the Ogilvy culture. The walls are filled with company catch phrases like, “The consumer isn’t a moron – She’s your wife,” and “If it doesn’t sell, It isn’t Creative.” And the best is painted on the back wall of our conference room, “Be Creative or Else.” The overarching philosophy of Ogilvy, and a wonderful example of transformational leadership, is, “We bring out the inner greatness of brands, companies, institutions and people.” They like difficult, and they like to work from the “Big Ideal.” Through awareness of cultural tensions, Ogilvy positions brands to turn obstacles into opportunities.
Another opportunity An pointed out was the growth and potential mobile marketing. Although not a major part of Ogilvy’s playbook today, that will not be true in the foreseeable future, according to An.
An gave us her personal pearls of wisdom about a PR career. First of all, as an employer, she looks for people with great passion and creativity. Second, people need balance between work and home. Third, get a hobby; always have a hobby, it doesn’t have to be the same one forever, just always be certain to have the outlet.

From PR to Advertising
Saatchi & Saatchi

Not unlike our first stop today, the reception area non-verbals have their own message. Black bolsters on settees with lime green pillows and living plants decorate the waiting area. Brass 3D lettering announces the name. The receptionist is hospitable, directing us to a raised conference room with one glass wall overlooking a hallway. Refreshments are waiting for us. The statement here is more like we are cool, thoughtful, and a little quirky. Reflecting on the presentation by Yves Van Landeghen, I would have to say that is a very good description of the local CEO if not the branch as a whole.
There is no doubt the Yves is passionate about advertising, about causing behavioral changes. With his major in psychology, he is all about what is in an ad campaign that affects behavior.
Excited over the exponential increase in the rate of new knowledge, Yves drove home the need to think outside the box, to be curious, and to be well researched. In his opinion, ad agency personnel need to be generalists rather than specialists. During our Q&A I asked what additional areas of studies he would suggest to become a “generalist.” History, psychology, philosophy, being well and wide read, and remain open to new ideas were his suggestions. It seems that today’s press, PR professionals, advertising agencies, and media groups are no longer looking for specialists…they need staff that can and will gladly wear many hats at the same time.

Today’s take-away: Be specific about remaining a generalist. And I suppose that one explanation of the differences between PR and advertising is the former is about changing opinions, while the latter is about changing behaviors.


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