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Cover Story
As Shatter-Proof as Ever!
Women have broken a lot of Gender Barriers in Society, But The Glass ceiling is not Exactly in that List Yet
Issue Date - 17/03/2011
If you ask her to size the entire business or Ogilvy’s market share in the same, she happily states anyone’s incapability to do so considering the enormity of the market and the ever new mediums making it big and following suit, she is now gearing up to take OgilvyOne, the direct marketing and digital division of the group to new heights. “It’s impossible to measure the growing market for OgilvyOne. Who knew that someone is going to pay $6 billion for a Groupon. It’s a new idea that’s 18 months old, you can’t size it. But you need to keep pushing the boundaries for communication marketing and selling,” says Lazarus. Interestingly, as of today, the largest contribution to O&M’s revenues comes from OgilvyOne.

While the recession is finally over, or so we would like to feel, Ogilvy has a slew of competitors now. But she aims to concentrate on growing business for her clients and thereby ensuring a 10% growth in revenue on a year-on-year basis, for the next five years. With the conviction of her experience, she sounds pretty certain when she says that “it wouldn’t have been any different if I was a man in the corporate world, because what matters to me is that I have been able to sustain the values of David Ogilvy’s (founder of O&M) culture and have found the right ways to re-express them according to the present time.” Well, we would say: rightly said, after all it’s Lazarus’ powerful vision and success that has earned her top awards and recognition in her field, and not the novelty of being a woman at the helm.

“It’s Hard to Change a Brand”

B&E: It was you who pioneered the concept of 360-degree branding in the 90s. How has the concept contributed to Ogilvy’s growth?
Shelly Lazarus (SL): I wish I could say that I was smart enough to see this coming, but it isn’t like that. It automatically happened. In fact, once you take an approach to keep the brand at the centre, you use every possible tool to express that brand; to make the world understand what the brand is all about. When you go for brand orientation, you set up yet another way to interact with people. So, when we entered the 21st century with 360-degree branding, we were already prepared for the digital advent in media and we didn’t feel lost or felt a need to reinvent ourselves because we had already reinvented ourselves.

B&E: So, what has been the biggest challenge that you have faced so far while handling a brand?
SL: The perennial challenge is of taking the equity as it is in the brand, and making it more relevant & interesting. Over the years, clients have come to me saying that they are unhappy with their brands, young people don’t relate to it – they want to change their brands. I tell them that it’s really hard to change a brand. The stronger the brand is, the more impossible it is to kill it, and even harder to change it. My challenge was to make these clients accept all the positives of their brand and build from there, otherwise it would have never worked. In fact, getting clients to believe in their brand was and still is a challenge.

B&E: What about your plans to accelerate growth through OgilvyOne, your direct marketing arm?
SL: We expect a lot of growth from OgilvyOne. It brings in new technology, new ways of communicating with people. We have set up digital labs in various places around the world and have people who are constantly thinking about new ways of communication using new technology. The things they are doing in the mobile space are fascinating. In fact, digital guys are now present in our boardrooms, which is a very healthy change.

B&E: What is that one achievement of O&M Worldwide that you think David Ogilvy would have been really proud of if he were alive?
SL: I think he would love the fact that we have successfully evolved for the 21st century. We are huge in new media, we have divisions that were never heard of, yet the culture is as strong as it has ever been. His values still exist everywhere.

By : Shephali bhatt

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