When advertising veteran Shelly Lazarus began her career more then 40 years ago, marketers dreamed then about truly being able to communicate one to one with customers. Now, that’s a reality and presents an enormous opportunity for the industry and those leading the digital charge.
“When I was working in direct marketing we used to imagine what it was like if we could talk to an individual in real time and tell that person about our product and service, and everything we did was to simulate what that would feel like,” says Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather in this interview with Beet.TV. “Now we can. We are just in the infancy in the industry of trying to figure out how to use the ability to talk one to one in the moment a consumers indicates he or she is interested in what we have to sell.”
Those changes in the technological capabilities of the digital world are making advertising a more fascinating playground for those entering the field today. “Over the next five to ten years, we are going to have more ways of consuming content than has ever been imagined, and as a starting point we are all going to have to be agnostic about how an individual wants to consume content. They are going to have so many choices and we have to accept it.”
Lazarus has a particular vantage point from having been with the storied shop since 1971, and having led the agency during the 1990s and into the 2000s. Advertising was a natural fit for Lazarus since she responded to the creativity as well as the particular type of people that the field attracts.
“If you want to wake up every morning and have the world be different in a way where you have to figure out what to do in it, this is a great industry. And it’s the people in it. Working all day with creative people is a treat,” she says in explaining her passion for the business. “I also find people in advertising very involved in culture and what is happening in the world, so you have these interesting, funny, outrageous people who you get to think with every day and come up with new solutions…it has never felt like work to me.”
Lazarus has talked openly about “personal branding” and what it means and shouldn’t mean in the context of a career in advertising. “Resilience —the ability to hang in there when things are difficult—is critical in a career, and if you’re spending every hour of the day pretending to be someone you’re not, you’ll be exhausted and won’t have the energy needed to face your real work,” she said in an interview with the Harvard Business Review on this topic.
Perhaps that’s why she’s such an outspoken advocate of working in a field one loves. “Find something you love to do. Find something about which you are passionate,” she tells Beet.TV. “If it’s not advertising, don’t stay here. If you don’t like what you’re doing, go find something you love. You’re never going to give enough of yourself to something unless you love it. And unless you give freely of yourself, you’re not going to be successful.”
This is segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP. Lazarus was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital.