Maja Pawinska Sims 31 Oct 2018 // 1:43PM GMT
LONDON — All staff at Ogilvy UK have been offered voluntary redundancy, in what the agency describes as "the final stage" of its radical restructuring process.
In a move that shocked many, staff were told on Tuesday that they have until the end of this week to apply.
The firm issued only a brief statement by Ogilvy UK COO John Cornwell: “This offer of voluntary redundancy is the final stage in Ogilvy UK's transformation journey. Our intent is to be as transparent as possible and provide our people with choices as we continue to reshape our business for the future.”
Ogilvy PR chief Michael Frohlich became CEO in February, taking the lead on the “radical” restructuring to bring the entire agency under one cross-discipline P&L, including dropping individual brands such as Ogilvy PR and Ogilvy & Mather.
Frohlich confirmed that the PR team within Ogilvy was included in the voluntary redundancy offer but declined to comment further at this stage.
The agency said that the offer only applies to Ogilvy UK employees, and “specifics are being worked through as the program has only just been announced.” It is not yet known how many redundancies are being sought, or what will happen if those levels are not met voluntarily.
Sources within Ogilvy varied in their reaction to the news, including describing it as both “unsettling” and “exciting”; querying management assertions that it was not a cost-cutting exercise; emphasising that the PR team was already lean; and speculating that the move was intended to “weed out those who are not on the journey” and was an “overdue move to strip out excess” in the firm’s Sea Containers building.
There have been a number of other leadership changes this year, following the departure of UK chief executive Annette King, who became CEO of Publicis in 2017 after 18 years with Ogilvy.
Senior departures have included chief strategy officer Kevin Chesters, chief client officer Charlie Rudd, chief production officer Clare Donald and chief creative officers Mick Mahoney and Emma de la Fosse. Earlier this month, Andre Laurentino was promoted to chief creative officer.