John Killam named Ogilvy Canada CEO

John Killam has been named CEO of Ogilvy Canada, filling the top spot at the WPP agency that was left vacant when Laurie Young retired in late March. His first day at Ogilvy was Monday.

Killam was most recently chief client officer for Omnicom’s Red Magnet agency group, which was specifically assembled to work on the Rogers Communications account. Before that he spent several years at OMD, working on the Rogers and PepsiCo businesses. Much of his early career was spent at creative agencies including McCann, Juniper Park and Clean Sheet.

Killam brings a unique skill-set that is ideally suited to tackling many of the challenges marketers face today, said Arthur Fleischmann who, as CEO of Ogilvy and John St., oversaw the search process and made the hire for Ogilvy.

“The original list was close to 100 people,” he said. “What made it a little tougher was my brief; I wanted someone who did not hold this [role] already but that had the demonstrated skill set for doing the job.” Rather than someone who was already a chief executive, Fleischmann was looking for people who had handled a second-in-command type role with experience leading large clients.

That was exactly what Killam had with Red Magnet, where he was drawing on resources from across Omnicom networks including OMD, DDB, BBDO and Critical Mass, said Fleischmann. “I liked that he knows how to work with disparate and unique teams all working toward a common goal.”

The industry today is about bringing together traditional creatives with creative technologists and strategists, along with data and media experts. Killam’s diverse experience means he understands important aspects of the modern advertising ecosystem, such as programmatic, dynamic advertising and data-driven decision making, all of which are invaluable to clients looking to solve business problems with communications solutions, said Fleischmann.

“Given the importance of understanding channel, data and creative product integration today, I found it interesting that he brings to us that 360-degree worldview,” said Fleischman, who is still looking to hire a chief strategy office. “Not surprisingly the brief is similar,” he said.

“Ogilvy, an iconic brand with a great Canadian history, has been able to attract some of the brightest talent and best clients in our business. I’m extremely excited to be joining this team.” said Killam in a release. “Very few agencies in Canada have a team of professionals who understand how to both build powerful brands for the long term and drive performance and loyalty every day.”


David Brown