NEW YORK CITY – Tham Khai Meng is out as Chief Creative Officer of The Ogilvy Group. Having been with the WPP Group since 1999 and rising to WPP worldwide creative director in 2005, Tham’s removal is a shocking move announced by Worldwide Chief Executive John Seifert via memo to Ogilvy staff.
In the said memo, Seifert stated that he had been informed of employee complaints against Tham two weeks earlier. “I found these complaints serious enough to appoint external legal counsel to investigate the matter,” Seifert continued. “After carefully reviewing the investigation’s findings with several of my partners, we concluded that Khai’s behavior was a clear breach of our company values and code of conduct. I have decided to terminate Khai’s employment with the company with immediate effect.”
“Each year, we ask every employee in the company to read, authorize, and fully commit to a code of conduct that each of us is responsible for living up to,” Seifert said in the memo. “Over the past 70 years, we have institutionalized shared values and a standard of professional behavior unique to the Ogilvy brand. This is an important moment to reaffirm that no individual in this company is too senior or too important not to be held accountable for their actions.”
Just last month, Ogilvy was announcing its “Next Chapter” as it introduced a new organizational structure and brand identity. During that announcement, Tham stated that, “Our creativity is the foundation of Ogilvy’s global network and the most powerful competitive advantage that we have. We are building on the creative heritage of David Ogilvy to fuel our future.”
With previous stints at Leo Burnett, McCann Erickson, and Batey Ads, Tham was elevated to co-chairman and regional executive creative director for Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific in 1999. Ogilvy named Tham its worldwide creative director and chairman of its worldwide creative council in 2008.
Ogilvy won Network of the Year from 2012 to 2016 at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity under Tham’s leadership.