OgilvyOne Business has announced the shock departures of CEO and joint MD Drew Nicholson and Domini Pettifar, only two years after their arrival as part of the multi-million acquisition of their agency DNX.
The husband and wife team – who grew Surrey-based DNX into a multi-award winning, 100-strong agency with gross income of £6.7 million – depart only two years into what was understood to be a long earn-out agreement.
A press release states these departures, plus a wider management reshuffle, allow the agency to: “unify B2B and B2C offerings under a new leadership team to help brands better engage with customers.” Incoming OgilvyOne Business CEO Sam Williams-Thomas denies this spells an end to the agency’s previously stated objective of turning the merged DNX and inhouse Ogilvy B2B operations into a globally recognised force in the sector.
He describes the departure of the couple as “very sad – both personally and professionally”, and claims it was due to the fact Nicholson and Pettifar “do not share the vision” of the rest of the management team. He says the couple had wanted Ogilvy One Business to pursue a more autonomous path as a distinct B2B operation, whilst Ogilvy saw advantages in greater integration and sharing of resources across the group.
As part of the management reshuffle, Clare Lawson will step up to MD (a position she previously shared with Pettifar), on her return from maternity leave.
Williams-Thomas maintains that B2B remains one of Ogilvy’s five core business pillars, and that as a consequence the agency remains utterly committed to it. However, he concedes that situations change rapidly in agency land, and that correspondingly business visions and plans to achieve them sometimes need to change with them. He categorically denied these changes were in any way a result of poor performance at the wider Ogilvy One operation, and wanted to make it absolutely clear that it remains committed to maintaining the Shere, Surrey office (DNX’s former HQ) and the team therein.
Drew Nicholson and Domini Pettifar declined to comment.