Ogilvy & Mather loses a couple more from its executive ranks, Paul Maher signs on to steady the ship

Former MediaWorks TV chief executive Paul Maher will be joining Ogilvy & Mather early next year in an executive capacity that will see him working closely alongside managing director Greg Partington. 

Maher has until now been working there on a project basis, but his full-time appointment will become official in the new year.

Maher’s presence around the Ogilvy & Mather offices has led to industry speculation that he was being groomed to take over the reins from Partington in the near future, but Maher says this isn’t the case (StopPress also asked the agency about these rumours, but it wouldn’t comment. Partington didn’t respond to emailed questions). 

He stressed several times that he would be working with Partington on a strategy to increase the revenue delivered by the broad assets across the business.

Maher’s most recent stint at MediaWorks lasted over two and half years, but he also has around 20 years’ experience in media, having worked at Starcomm and ZenithOptimedia during his career.

The arrival of Maher at the agency comes at a time of significant executive shuffling at the agency.   

The agency’s business director Terry Daly left the agency last Friday and the agency also recently bid farewell to its head of digital Greg Whitham who joined VML, the recently (soft) launched specialist digital strategy arm of Y&R NZ.  

Daly’s tenure at Ogilvy stretches back only ten months to March when he joined the agency after a seven-year stint as the commercial and marketing director at the New Zealand Olympic Committee. 

Ogilvy has been asked for further information on Daly’s departure, but the agency was not willing to comment at this stage.  

A source close to the matter says Daly preferred working client side.  

Whitham says he joined VML around three months ago, but they haven’t publicised the move because they are still in the process of securing clients. Y&R has expanded its City Works depot office to accommodate the new division and it has also established a joint venture/revenue sharing model with Wellington-based digital agency Uprise.      

This move brings a close to Whitham’s seven-year stint at Ogilvy, which started in 2008 with him first serving as a creative director before shifting to the digital side of the business.   

Whitham says there was “no bad blood” involved in his decision to leave the agency. 

“There are certainly some political motivations behind some of the departures, but this wasn’t the case for me,” Whitham says. “I had been working at a big agency for the last seven years and felt it was time for a change, so I joined Y&R because it considers itself a global boutique. I really just wanted a new challenge.”   

The most recently reported departure was that of executive director Paul Manning, who joined .99 off the back of a six-year stint at Ogilvy (this came about after Manning’s agency Metromedia was acquired in 2007 and subsequently merged into Ogilvy).

When asked whether he would be coming on as a replacement for Manning, Maher said that his responsibilities would extend well beyond the remit of those fulfilled by Manning during his tenure.     

Earlier, the agency lost executive creative director Angus Hennah and business director Sandra Daniel, who both subsequently joined Special Group after the agency won the Holden account (Hennah has since been replaced by Regan Grafton, who moved from FCB and appears to have had a positive impact on the agency’s creative output since his arrival).

There are also significant changes higher up the ladder with the STW Group, which holds an 85 percent stake in Ogilvy & Mather. Partington still retains a 15 percent stake in the agency. He decreased his stake from 35 percent back in 2011, but his Waitapu Trust still owns 100 percent of Hypermedia and Social@Ogilvy. 

Chris Rollinson, the finance director at the STW Group, Australia’s largest holding company, says that earlier today there was a trading halt imposed on STW, pending an announcement set to be made on Tuesday next week. 

Rollinson would not confirm or deny industry speculation in Australia that the WPP Group, which already holds a stake in STW, was set to up its stake to 60 percent. 

A takeover does, however, seem the most likely course of action, given that WPP bought an additional 10 million shares in the company and upping its stake to 23.65 percent in October this year, following a disappointing year for STW

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