Shelly Lazarus of Ogilvy & Mather Speaks at IESE in New York

Traditional media remain more powerful than social networks

15/10/2012 New York


Radio, TV, print and digital remain more effective than tapping into social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter when it comes to promoting a brand, said Ogilvy & Mather Chairman Emeritus Shelly Lazarus at IESE Business School's inaugural Business Leaders Conversation event, held in New York. While social media platforms hold great potential, they still have not been fully exploited as a marketing tool, she said.

Lazarus was the guest at the special event moderated by Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal’s deputy managing editor and executive online editor. She joined Ogilvy & Mather in 1971 and rose through the company’s ranks becoming worldwide CEO in 1996 and then chairman in 1997. Under her leadership, the company grew into one of the largest and most reputable brands in advertising, with clients such as American Express, Coca-Cola, IBM, BP, Motorola and Unilever.

In her remarks, Lazarus stressed the potential of social media as an advertising vehicle, the importance of maintaining a strong corporate culture founded on values and the challenges faced by women leaders.

Until social media firms are able to more effectively leverage their influence, traditional media channels will remain crucial for brand promotion, she said.

"There’s nothing as powerful as a brand and strong brands act as organizing principles for companies," she said.

But companies can't build great brands through advertising alone, she said. The strength of a brand stems from the company's values, principles and ability to live up to its words. In the face of a reputation crisis, companies should never turn to advertising as a way out.

"I recently turned down a client who wanted to advertise its way out of a problem," she said, "I just said, ‘it’s hopeless. Fix the problem.’"

She cited BP as an example of a company that suffered damage to its reputation after an oil spill several years ago but successfully addressed the core problem.

Regarding female leaders, Lazarus said that women still face huge challenges when it comes to integrating work and family life. She called for greater flexibility in the workplace and encouraged female executives to be straightforward with their companies about their needs and preferences.