Mumbai: Advertising veteran and chairman of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, Shelly Lazarus, has spent more than three decades in the industry, most of this time at David Ogilvy’s agency. India and China are the jewels of the network, she said in an interview during her recent visit to the country. Edited excerpts:
It’s been a terrible year for the economy. Has Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) Worldwide been affected?
We’ve been impacted by the downturn but it hasn’t been catastrophic. Obviously, the biggest problem has been in the United States. Outside the US, we are managing quite well. Fast moving consumer goods companies such as Unilever have kept up with their spends. What’s helped us in this time is that we are quite balanced in terms of our marketing mix. Less than 50% of our revenues come from traditional advertising. A good deal comes from PR, digital, direct marketing, etc.
Quite balanced: Lazarus says the firm has been affected by the downturn but it hasn’t been catastrophic and managing well outside the US. Prajakt Patil / Hindustan Times
Do you have plans to bring Mather as a separate brand to India?
We are talking about it. The reason, of course, is to handle more conflicting clients. The thought has been to have Mather here as a strong brand which will have Ogilvy-trained people but in a different environment. It could be a smaller, nimbler outfit. Then again in the US, we have an agency called Soho Square. This agency is a possibility too as a second agency to Ogilvy here.
What are the new initiatives for India? Will the alliance with data analytics firm MarketShare Partners (MSP) come into play here?
We are developing a whole new practice called “Digital Influence”. This practice doesn’t just judge what content is out there but maps out who’s saying what.
You can tell an advertiser, these are the bloggers you need to worry about and reach out to because they influence everybody else. We’ve begun this in Washington DC and will be rolling it out in other markets, including India.
The truth is that data analytics has become a lot more sophisticated and it’s not about looking at a few AC Nielsen charts any more. We are looking at how we can bring our data analytics alliance into play in India; but these are early days as yet.
Is O&M losing ground in terms of its reputation as a creative agency? BBDO has outranked it in Asia-Pacific, according to a recent Cannes report?
I am not sure whether award shows always reflect the quality of work but it certainly is one measure. We continue with the Ogilvy policy of Divine Discontent.
Even if we were No. 1 (as per the Cannes report), we would continue to focus on our work. We are doing an interesting campaign presently for Copenhagen. We were awarded this business by the United Nations to enlist people that would influence elected officials on passing an agreement on climate change in Copenhagen. We won this with a simple concept (we replaced the first letter with an H), so it becomes Hopenhagen. So, yes, we continue with a maniacal focus on quality of work, in spite of the Cannes report.
Omnicom is said to be chasing the Unilever business in this market.
Ogilvy Worldwide has a 360 degree orientation. While others talk about it, we actually do it. Everyone’s been buying direct marketing agencies and public relations companies. But we’ve grown much more the organic route. We (Ogilvy and WPP) put all the pieces together and bring a solution to the client. And that’s quite different from the way Omnicom works. They (Omnicom) have all these specialized disciplines that never work together.