Ogilvy Case Study: SuperSaturday 

Client Profile

Industry Sector:  Advertising

Number of employees: 15,000

Location: International

Challenge

Ogilvy have been running their annual ‘SuperSaturday’ event in New York very successfully for a number of years. SuperSaturday is an Assessment Center for campus/graduate-level hires being recruited into the ‘Associate’ role within Ogilvy. This role is very prestigious, in a highly regarded organization with tremendous growth opportunities for the successful candidates, and as such, competition for places is very strong with just an average of 20 new hires taken from 2000 applicants in 2010.

By any standard of Assessment Center the SuperSaturday event is a huge and complex exercise – with 52 candidates, 26 assessors, and a team of back-office support in excess of 30. Ogilvy rightly see the event as a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the Ogilvy brand and ensure all candidates have a positive experience that celebrates the organization’s brand, regardless of the outcome.

Ogilvy wanted to update and improve the event, by introducing new assessment exercises to provide an even more robust measure of behaviors that are essential to the Associate role. These tools needed to seamlessly work within the complexity of the SuperSaturday timetable, as well as being brand-relevant and appropriate for the Ogilvy culture.

Part of the challenge related to the issue of how to objectively measure the notoriously subjective area of ’creativity’. Given the industry, and the nature of the role, creativity is an absolutely essential competency area. Earlier stages of the sifting process had provided one measure through a writing sample exercise, but SuperSaturday needed to provide additional measures of creativity through behavioral simulation as well as another writing sample.

To ensure an effective implementation and management of the new assessment tools, Ogilvy also required their squad of assessors to be trained and fully supported to enable them to perform their role consistently on the day.

Solution

Working closely in partnership with Ogilvy’s team, a&dc designed and delivered the following:

1. Provision of World Leading Behavioral Assessment Tools

Two of a&dc’s world-leading range of AC-EXS® behavioral simulation exercises were utilized. As with all behavioral simulation exercises, these tools added tremendous value to Ogilvy through being able to see candidates in action – not only in terms of what they did in response to the scenarios, but how they did it. This was important to balance alongside the ‘self-report’ measures obtained through the Competency-Based Interview also used during the event. That is, the interviews gave candidates scope to report how effectively they have tackled key scenarios in the past, and the simulations allowed us to see in reality how effective they are. In relation to the issue of measuring creativity objectively, the simulations provided a ‘level playing field’ for candidates, and the behavioral indicators of creativity gave all the assessors a consistent, objective ‘lens’ through which to judge candidates’ creativity.

a) A Group Discussion – this was used largely to assess candidates in a team setting, in particular in regards to their personal impact, leadership of the group and how well they collaborated with others. This also provided a measure of their creativity from a problem solving perspective – that is, how effectively they developed innovative solutions, rather than relying on the obvious.

b) An Analysis Exercise – this was used largely to assess candidates’ ability to process information, generate a range of ideas and present these with high impact. This exercise was shortened to work within a very complex timetable, and adjusted to provide another measure of creativity. This time, the focus was on creative idea generation to tackle a problem, measuring three elements of creativity: the diversity of ideas – how truly innovative these were, the fluency or number of ideas generated and the range of ideas – rather than relying on one ‘type’ of idea.

In both cases, these exercises were adapted to perfectly meet Ogilvy’s needs and reflected their competency labels. These two tools complimented two other assessments designed in-house by Ogilvy.

2. Centre Management of SuperSaturday – Whilst Ogilvy continued to manage the broader design of SuperSaturday, a&dc also provided support in terms of timetabling and general consulting support in the build-up to the event. This included Co-Center Managing SuperSaturday, ensuring that the event ran smoothly, and providing on-site support to the Assessor and Back-office teams.

3. Training of the Assessor Squad – A key part of a&dc’s solution was to design and deliver training events both for the Assessor team, but also the back-office teams who were responsible for quality review of Assessor Reports. The major challenge here related to the lack of time available from Assessors, who were all senior-level Ogilvy employees with major client pressures. a&dc therefore condensed the Assessor training down as far as possible and focused on practical skill development.

One innovation here was to trial the Group Discussion exercise with current Associates, and film the trial in order to use the footage during the training. This proved to be very successful in terms of providing Assessors both with a realistic preview of the challenges associated with ‘live assessment’ during a fast-moving discussion, but also in terms of highlighting the need for a clear and consistent ‘lens’ through which to observe, record, classify and evaluate behavior.

The additional benefits for Ogilvy were both to gain reassurance that the exercise ‘worked’, and also for the longer-term, to be able to re-use the footage for future Assessor Training events. a&dc’s support was provided quickly, responding to evolving needs within a four-week period in the build-up to the SuperSaturday event.

Outcome

The feedback gathered during and following the SuperSaturday event was very positive, with some further enhancements highlighted:

Candidates – “Thank you so much for a wonderful weekend. I can’t imagine the amount of planning and preparation that must have gone into it, it was truly a great learning experience that I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of. Looking forward to read more into what happens next!”

“Throughout the process, I’ve grown nothing but a deep respect and admiration for the people of Ogilvy. Very rarely do you find an organization willing to spend the time and resources on such a lengthy and methodical recruitment process, and to give your candidates a realistic, on-site job preview like SuperSaturday. Your coordination of the whole event was masterly and absolutely meticulous.”

“SuperSaturday was an absolutely amazing experience.”

Assessors – Feedback from the Assessor team was very positive in terms of the experience they had during the event, and the personal learning obtained for them. They collectively gained a further appreciation of the need for thorough training, with many of them reflecting that in the future they would value greater support and would be willing to make the necessary time commitment.

Back-office Team – Ogilvy colleagues involved in these support teams commented that a number of process enhancements helped to ensure SuperSaturday ran smoothly. As always with events of this complexity, there were some areas identified which could be tightened up for the future.

Ogilvy Team – There was clear consensus that the tools utilized enabled Ogilvy to reach the right hiring decisions. Moving forward, there’s a continued interest to further improve the whole end-to-end recruitment process, with an ongoing focus on the need to assess Creativity thoroughly, as well as continue to provide future candidates with a positive experience.

What the client says

a&dc partnered with us to evolve our SuperSaturday event and help deliver us fantastic results. We felt reassured by the a&dc’s team expertise and we particularly valued their quality, professionalism and flexibility. The a&dc exercises really helped us identify the right candidates, the training helped our Assessor team feel confident and competent, and the overall support provided helped us navigate through the risks and challenges associated with such a major assessment event.” Heather Eck, Manager, Human Resource, Ogilvy & Mather