Customers, creativity and branding: Lazarus keynote

Shelly Lazarus, chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, presented the Tuesday morning keynote at the DMA-07 Conference & Exhibition.

Her remarks were presaged by Microsoft MSN earning DMA’s Marketer of the Year Award. Microsoft’s partnership with Live Earth and its Admaster’s Search Master Steve campaign were used as examples of its direct marketing work. The acceptance speech given by Reed Price, editor in chief of MSN, and Jerry Hayek, Microsoft group marketing manager, highlighted the themes of Lazarus’ speech – creativity, opportunity and communication.

Lazarus began her keynote by claiming direct marketing as the future of marketing. She pointed out that negative misconceptions of direct marketing were far outweighed by its importance in the making of a final sale.

Like John Greco, president and CEO of DMA, said in his speech on Monday, Lazarus noted that consumers now wield the power in marketing relationships, thanks, in part, to technological advances.

“The role consumers play has changed profoundly,” she stated. “They decide when, where and how they are going to consume content and entertainment.”

Lazarus continued, saying that while previous generations of advertisers worked as an intrusion, consumers can now “work around” them.

“We have to be invited in,” she said. “We have to entertain or provide information that is valuable. We have to do things well enough to surprise and delight our consumers so they want to engage with us.”

Building one cohesive, multichannel-ready brand, she said, was essential for gaining loyalty and having marketing success.

“The concept of separate disciplines is almost meaningless,” she asserted, pointing out that Ogilvy & Mather has one integrated creative department. “We search for an idea big enough that it can bounce through all the media channels.”

Lazarus contended that direct marketing is not about media in a world where the consumer can pick and choose. She pointed out that a “big, fat, organizing idea” was paramount, citing Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty as an example. The campaign, based on a statistic that said only 2% of women worldwide considered themselves beautiful, made news, won over YouTube viewers and snagged a spot on Oprah’s couch.

Another example was the American Express My Life, My Card campaign, which ran on television and in print. To engage readers, American Express placed fill-in-the-blank pages next to celebrity ads, inviting readers to answer questions about, among other ideas, their childhood ambition. To American Express’ surprise, readers not only filled in the forms, but mailed them back to the company, creating an unintentional direct campaign. Lazarus used the American Express story to illustrate her point that so-called old media can be interactive because people have become used to engaging in dialogue.

“If you ask something, they’ll answer you,” she said.

However, Lazarus said that digital technology is one of the strongest media for creating these dialogues, which inspire endless ideas and contributions. She warned, though, that without a brand idea to organize these contributions, the ad’s message can be lost in the technology.

“We need to demonstrate that what we can do is valuable,” she concluded. “Direct marketing has always been about provable success. This is the territory of direct marketing.”

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