Ogilvy brings Consulting brand to Canada

Ogilvy Canada has officially brought its Ogilvy Consulting unit to Canada, hiring Kevin Sutherland as managing director.

For now, Sutherland, a creative technologist with more than 20 years of experience, is the Consulting practice’s lone employee, although he’ll work with experts from across the Consulting operation—which counts 3,000 employees worldwide.

Ogilvy rebranded Ogilvy Red as Ogilvy Consulting in mid-2018, an example of how the traditional ad agency world is responding both to the evolving needs of clients and the expanding reach of consulting firms—which are offering customer experience (and communications solutions) as part of larger business transformation mandates.

Creative agencies have responded by enhancing their offering and going beyond brand communications, reimagining what a brand can do and how it can connect with consumers in more meaningful ways.

That trend is evidenced by the growing importance of creative technologists like Sutherland, as well as a greater voice for strategists, planners and design thinking expertise.

Ogilvy says that Ogilvy Consulting is about brand and customer experience, along with data and technology to transform businesses and drive growth. The new layer of service offered in Canada will include business design, digital transformation, behavioural science, culture change and employee experience.

The difference from the consulting houses like Deloitte and Accenture is the underpinning of a creative agency, said Ogilvy Canada CEO John Killam. “When you look at a competitors in the space, what Ogilvy brings is a heritage of creativity. We’re really good at solving complex problems in the brand space,” he said.

Customer experience today is about working with employees at all levels and functions across a brand, developing the kinds of meaningful experiences that customers remember, often driven by technology, said Sutherland.

“My technical and strategic background allows me to sit between marketing, the CEO level, business owners and technology in a kind of non-confrontational conduit way to get them to speak and share all of their initiatives,” he said.

Sutherland will be based in Montreal, working for clients anywhere in Canada and drawing on existing talent within Ogilvy’s Canadian operations, as well as the deeper pool of talent within Ogilvy Consulting around the world.

Killam said they started talking about hiring Sutherland late last year, and decided to finalize the move partly because of the pandemic. “We’ve had a lot of clients that are now dealing with even more complex issues,” said Killam. “There’s been a significant acceleration in things like e-commerce and DTC solutions. And so we couldn’t think of a better time to say ‘Let’s get this done, get Kevin in here.'”

It’s difficult to predict just how many of the new behaviours arising from the pandemic will be permanent or long-lasting, but brands need to move quickly to transform their businesses to get the most of them in the short term, he said.

“If you have a client who has recently had a huge uptick in e-commerce, how are we building the tools for that client to accelerate their CRM program for example, to ensure that they’re making connections with those e-comm customers so they don’t lose them when people get back out onto the street and start going back to stores and other things.”


David Brown